There might be an answer. Might. I explain later, below.
First, I would hate to see Scalise lose his post as majority whip of the House of Representatives. Nor would I want Louisiana to lose whatever stroke he might be able to provide to the state since right now, after the loss of Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu, the state delegation has about as much power as an old jalopy in reverse.
Also, I think that Scalise is a good person although politically, he is more to my right. Then, as Majority Whip, with a fractured republican party with the Tea Partiers tugging at his pants, he will likely find himself torn between what Louisiana voters want and what Congressional leadership demands.
That is the price of success, I guess.
I join those who have been disappointed, not shocked, by his admission.
Many of us worked extremely hard to keep the state clean of David Duke, Klanners, Nazi’s, neo-Nazi’s and those who make money on hate of blacks, Jews and Catholics.
Many of us have wondered how in the world could Scalise possibly have spoken to a group that advocates the very type of causes abhorrent to most of us—and not join in the chorus of disagreement and contempt for their political beliefs and practices.
Not that I do not believe in free speech and freedom of expression. I do. In fact, when Duke ran for his House seat, back when he had about 3 percent of the vote, weeks before the general election which he surged as a runoff candidate against John Treen, I personally invited Duke to speak to an organization I headed. I believed then and still believe, that it is important to hear as many sides to issues, even those you find detestable.
That one speech was all I needed. I knew this man was bad for Louisiana, bad for America. He has every right to say what he wants, but we have every right to want to make sure he is exposed for what he is, and was.
Yesterday when I published my first column on this issue, I wrote:
How would we get more details? Well, here are some questions I have. Who invited him to the event? Was it Kenny Knight or someone else that was publicly associated to Duke? “….
There is, however, one issue I believe to be important--does Scalise remember the event? Scalise has told the media that he does not remember the event. Ok. I accept him at his word. But, i have questions nonetheless. Questions such as how many times did he speak at the Landmark Hotel? When did Duke’s speech take place? Duke’s address was transmitted by new technology video conferencing. Did Scalise see it? Did he know Duke spoke at the event? Was Kenny Knight at the event?
Logic and our own past experience tells us that this would have been an event he would now recall. While i accept him at his word, my gut feeling is he should have remembered the event. We know he admits that he spoke to the group. How could he remember his speaking at the event and not remember the event itself? There are questions, but, so far, no answers. (My emphasis(
After publishing the above, some of my questions were answered by other media.
We discovered that the point person for the event was Kenny Knight, that he had invited Scalise to speak. We likewise discovered that Scalise had a number of conversations with Knight about Duke and his politics.
Keep in mind, Knight was not just involved in Duke’s operation, he was the head honcho. I first discovered his involvement in the campaign when I saw him at the front of the stage introducing the newly victorious Louisiana state representative of District 81 in Metairie after the internationally controversial election. The Duke victory party was held at the landmark Hotel in Metairie.
The Washington Post provided some details about the event. In an interview, Knight said about that event:
Knight said he had set up the meeting “for David Duke as a courtesy after he had moved to Russia. I’ve known David for 40 years so I did him a favor. As part of that, I decided to ask Steve, our local representative, to come by and say a few words before the conference started,” Knight said. “He agreed, believing it was going to be neighbors, friends, and family. He saw me not as David Duke’s guy, but as the president of our civic association.”
Knight continued, “Now, at the time, I was a prominent person in state politics. I was on the radio, I was doing campaigns. Steve knew who I was, but I don’t think he held it against me. He knew I lived by his street and that I was active in our community. And I didn’t see a problem with having him speak.”
“Steve came in early on the first day of EURO, spoke for about 15 minutes, and he left,” Knight recalled. “He didn’t hear David speak remotely to the crowd.” Knight also said that he does not have video of Scalise’s remarks nor does he know if video of the speech exists.
The crowd there was a “mixed” audience for Scalise, mostly local, and partly “people who are concerned about the survival of their race,” he added. “The thing is, I don’t think Scalise knew anything about EURO, about that latter group.”
However, a new article by Slate has a different angle.
The article, titled Did House Majority Whip Steve Scalise admit to speaking at a white supremacist event he never attended? indicates that he admitted to speaking at an event but the event was not “The event”, at issue.
In other words, Scalise attended a gathering before the conference event was held and did not even know that the Euro event was taking place. Yep. Knight and is former girlfriend is claiming that he attended a neighborhood association gathering held in a separate room and adjacent to the conference hall.
Which could explain why Scalise would say he gave a speech to the event but he could not remember the event.
How do you admit speaking somewhere but not remember speaking there?
Sounds more like Washington DC every day.
But, the story goes on like a keystone cop escapade. In the Slate article, Knight said, ““I, simply as a courtesy to Mr. Duke, rented the room and set it up to give them a location,” he said. “I wasn’t really involved with the actual conference itself.”
Well, maybe. However, not mentioned by Knight that he was promoted as a major speaker of the event. (see below)
Also, regardless what the facts turn out to be, Scalise has himself to blame, beyond his admitting to have committed a stupid mistake, appearing at this event.
Slate said, “However, on Monday, an adviser for the House majority whiptold the Washington Postthat Scalise “appeared at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO.”
So, Scalise theoretically could have appeared at the event and not know he appeared at the event, not remembering that he appeared and he could have spoken to a group of people at the location of the event, but not at the main shindig, the racist conference.
Which begs for Scalise to face the media and answer all questions related to this surreal world of hate and confusion.
Scalise was not just stupid for doing something that he might not have done. He should have known he was getting himself into a public relations mess.
Having number of conversations with Knight about Duke’s political affairs and then accepting an invite from Knight to speak to an event at the Landmark Hotel, the very place that was closely associated with David Duke’s victory party and other very public occassions, should have been a major warning siren for the young politician looking for future votes.
Just maybe the current Majority Whip should have asked Knight about his own involvement in whatever it was. Maybe he did. And Maybe Knight told him that he was going to be a major speaker. And maybe that would and should have been enough for the then Louisiana State Representative to say, sorry, I’ve got a Bar Mitzvah to attend, or something.
Meantime, stay tuned as this story line is forever changing or crystalizing. Take your pick.