House Leaders Rallying Behind Scalise

House Speaker John Boehner and Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are both rallying behind Rep. Steve Scalise as controversy erupts over him speaking at a white supremacist conference organized by former KKK leader David Duke in 2002. Whether that will last or not remains to be seen.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is throwing a lifesaver to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R) as the Louisiana congressman faces a deluge of criticism and questions over a 2002 speech he gave to a white supremacist group.

“More than a decade ago, Representative Scalise made an error in judgment, and he was right to acknowledge it was wrong and inappropriate. Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know Steve to be a man of high integrity and good character. He has my full confidence as our Whip, and he will continue to do great and important work for all Americans,” Boehner said in a Tuesday statement.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is also standing by Scalise.

“Congressman Scalise acknowledged he made a mistake and has condemned the views that organization espouses,” McCarthy said in a statement released moments after Boehner’s. “I’ve known him as a friend for many years and I know that he does not share the beliefs of that organization.”

This will last as long as the whole thing blows over soon. If controversy continues to rage, I expect that support will erode. As Steve Benen points out, other Republican politicians who had more power than Scalise have been brought down by such matters. Trent Lott lost his seat as Senate Majority Leader the same year Scalise spoke at that conference for praising Strom Thurmond’s pro-segregation presidential campaigns at Thurmond’s birthday party.

And there is now new scrutiny being paid to the fact that Scalise voted against making Martin Luther King day a holiday in 2004, long after nearly every other Republican had recanted their votes against that holiday in the 80s.

Note, as a Republican state lawmaker, Scalise clearly knew the King holiday was going to be approved, but he made a point of voting against it anyway.

To be sure, there are other notable Republicans who rose to national prominence after voting against a day honoring MLK. Former Vice President Dick Cheney (R), for example, voted against the King holiday as a member of Congress in 1978. Five years later, Cheney changed his mind.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also voted against it in 1983, though in 1999, he said on “Meet the Press,” “We all learn, OK? We all learn. I will admit to learning, and I hope that the people that I represent appreciate that, too. I voted in 1983 against the recognition of Martin Luther King…. I regret that vote.”

Scalise, however, voted against the holiday in 2004.

The vote in the Louisiana legislature was 80-6, with Scalise one of the six. You have to feel really strongly about something to cast a vote like that when you know it’s going to pass and you know it’s going to be a very unpopular vote.

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  • Mobius

    I find it hard to believe that Scalise didn’t know who David Duke was, or that he was the founder of EURO, or that he didn’t realize what EURO stood for. And even if he didn’t somehow know, he should have been able to figure it out right after arriving at their convention. The fact that he stayed to make his speech, even after hearing what other speakers were saying, says volumes.

  • Trebuchet

    The vote in the Louisiana legislature was 80-6, with Scalise one of the six. You have to feel really strongly about something to cast a vote like that when you know it’s going to pass and you know it’s going to be a very unpopular vote.

    But was it unpopular in his district? Which, I recall reading somewhere, previously elected David Duke? Probably not.

  • anubisprime

    Seems Boehner & McCarthy hark unto the the import of Duke spilling the beans on who likes to rub shoulders with white supremist fuckheads…

    And indeed who has been rubbing shoulders and browning noses around Duke and his minions these many years.

    As Ed said..

    The vote in the Louisiana legislature was 80-6, with Scalise one of the six. You have to feel really strongly about something to cast a vote like that when you know it’s going to pass and you know it’s going to be a very unpopular vote.

    2004 can hardly be called pre-enlightenment in race matters, he was probably pandering to his own constituency or indeed even his own innate view on Martin Luther King.

    Cheney & McCain obviously felt the same way earlier but being a consummate politicians they had the finger on the pulse and found more votes came from the other direction.

    Scalise does not sound quite as astute…most white supremacists aren’t…who knew?

    Who were the other five that voted against?…cos there might indeed be a bit of a giveaway in the pattern…seeing who he decides to hob nob with in the legislature might be a clue as to his preferences.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    He voted against it because, like all Republicans, he loves and respects MLK too much to give him just one day. Take that, Democrats!

  • busterggi

    “There is nothing suspicious about a dinner meeting where attendees are wearing the tablecloths over their heads.

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Unfortunately, I think Scalise will survive and even thrive. If the last 6 years have shown anything it is that public racism is still accepted in this country. From Joe Wilson to Mitch McConnell to all the racist law enforcement officers, racism isn’t just dog whistled any more. It’s well within the Overton Window.