Have you heard? Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) burned a cross on MLK Jr. day while riding on David Duke’s shoulders waving a Confederate flag soaked in African American and Jewish blood. Oh, and he is in the Republican Leadership as the token Conservative.
Actually, everything in that first paragraph was a lie. Well, all except for the part about Scalise being the token Conservative in leadership. Despite the fact that the above is a lie, it is the narrative being set by the media and others for various differing reasons.
The actual claim which came out this week, while contextually different but substantially the same, is that in 2002 Rep. Scalise, then a mere State Representative in the Louisiana legislature, spoke to a neo-Nazi organization founded by David Duke. If this were true, I’d be leading the charge for Scalise to step down immediately, and that has been the reaction of plenty of Republicans and Conservatives.
But “if” is a huge word for only having two letters, and unfortunately it is often ignored.
As I said on twitter, I don’t actually like Scalise in leadership because he isn’t doing anything to advance conservatism. That said, I dislike political lynchings more than I dislike Scalise. If we want to replace Scalise, I wish we’d do it for him not being conservative enough rather than a trumped up charge of racist associations.
I didn’t like this sort of behavior when it was employed against conservative candidates such as Milton Wolf, Matt Bevin, or Chris McDaniel, by the Republican leadership, and I don’t like it now.
Now, I get that some believe, some friends even, that there is no strategic gain for conservatives in defending Scalise, but I don’t buy that or think that should be our only motivation in mounting a defense. First, there is always a strategic gain in not admitting that your allies, a term I use loosely, pal around with racists. Second, truth matters more than any agenda I may wish to advance.
The second point is really what drives me to defend Scalise.
It has come out since that Scalise didn’t actually speak to the EURO group. As reported by Betsy Woodruff over at Slate, the source which put Scalise at the EURO event has recanted.
According to Knight, the EURO conference was slated to start in the early afternoon, roughly around 1 p.m. But his reservation at the hotel gave him access to the conference space for a few hours before the event’s official kickoff. At the time, Knight headed the Jefferson Heights Civic Association, which was largely comprised of elderly people who lived in his and Scalise’s neighborhood.
In addition to Knight’s clarification, Woodruff also spoke to Knight’s girlfriend at the time Barbara Noble, who independently corroborated Knight’s version of the events.
If that weren’t enough to put these false accusations to rest, then feel free to ask Bobby Jindal what he thinks of Scalise, or ask the only black member of the Louisiana delegation, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA). Both of which are minorities and don’t believe for a second that Scalise is a racist.
Now, if this is all just a means to an end, that end being the weakening of Boehner as the Speaker and the GOP leadership in general, I get it, but I still think it is the wrong tactic to employ.
First, any tactic that is based on a lie is one that I reject outright as a Christian and as a conservative. No man deserves to be tarred and feathered over a lie, and his political ideology just doesn’t change that fact. It wasn’t right when Brad Dayspring, of the NRSC, leaked oppo hits filled with half truths about conservatives running for the U.S. Senate, and it isn’t right now that the shoe is on the other foot.
Second, I want conservatism to win. Not by default, chance, or dubious claims of racism, but because it truly is the best form of government to lift our nation out of the doldrums caused by Democrats and complicit Republicans. I don’t see how jumping on a false accusation will help conservative in the House or Senate in the long run. In fact, I believe it will do nothing but hurt us.
After all, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the House Leadership threw Scalise under the bus over this since he is the token conservative. If they were to do so, all the while building the narrative that Scalise is some sort of Tea Party darling, would we be any better off, any closer to taking out leadership, or any closer to conservatism in action?
I’d say no.
So, as I said in the title, ditch Scalise because he isn’t conservative enough, not over some BS charge of racism.