Yes, I’ve not put much on this weblog, but when I write something I want the world at large to see, or pick up on, I’ll be posting it here.
This is an open letter, or an open lecture, to any and all politicians, to the national media, and to the public at large.
Let me explain a very simple political concept:
THERE IS NO “OOPS.”
Just by way of background, Steve Scalise, a U.S. Congressman from Louisiana who is the House Majority Whip (that mean’s he’s the 3rd-highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives), has been forced to speak about a rally he spoke at back in 2002 held by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. Which, from the “White Rights”-sounding name, you might mistake for some sort of racist white supremacist group.
But it wouldn’t be a mistake: The E-A U&RO (aw, that’s so cute; they messed up spelling “EURO”!) *IS* a white supremacist organization.
Founded by, and managed by, David Duke.
Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and national political pustule, David Duke.
Scalise, who was a state rep in Louisiana at the time, is shocked–shocked!–to find that the organizers of this long-ago rally were racist. After all, he was just speaking, as he did at SO many rallies and gatherings at the time, about the evils of taxation and big government.
“I didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group,” he said to the New Orleans Time-Picayune. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.”
(As proof that his excuses are floundering, he offered up the argument that as a Catholic, white supremacists target people like him. [Yyyyeah. Though the Klan was anti-Catholic in the Twenties, that hasn’t been the case for sixty years. In fact, back in 1986, a Catholic, James Farrands, was elected Grand Imperial Wizard. Try again, Steve.]
He further says that he spoke for anyone who would ask, back then: “”I spoke to the League of Women Voters, a pretty liberal group. … I still went and spoke to them. I spoke to any group that called, and there were a lot of groups calling.”
[Hey, that’s nice what you did there: A white supremacist group on one side, and a “pretty liberal” group on the other. Guess they’re both extremist, huh? Almost the same thing, really. … Uh, no.])
What is “insulting and ludicrous” is the notion that, in the political arena, there is any such thing as an “oops.”
And what is worse is that the media seems ready to bend over backwards to give credence to the lie that there IS such a thing. “Well, golly; he says he didn’t realize …”
You’re an elected official? You have a staff. They have the job of researching such requests to ensure nothing embarrassing pops up. Even were it pre-Internet (it wasn’t), THAT’S PART OF THEIR JOB.
Look. There are allowable gaffes–but even so, they are not allowed to be “oops”es. Let’s say that you as a candidate are speaking at a town hall meeting, and a guy who says he is a veteran stands up and asks a good question. You answer the question, thank him for his service, and call him up to the stage as a “true American hero,” whom we should all emulate.
… then three days later, he gruesomely murders the ex-girlfriend who hd a restraining order against him.
THAT IS NOT, AND CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO BE, AN “OOPS.”
That is when you make this a teaching moment. You issue a statement, and make a speech, that this is why domestic violence is such a scourge to our culture; that we have to look for all the signs, and that the face of an abuser is not always easy to spot–and that is why you support greater protection for … blah, blah, blah.
You have taken the gaffe and made it an important lesson–and you have safeguarded your image, besides.
… But speaking in front of a white supremacist group?
First, your staff should have caught that, even if you were hurried in for your speech and hurried right back out again.
(Guess what? Scalise is reported to have sat through several speeches which were racist in content.)
And you CANNOT fob the error off on your staff—because if you cannot be trusted to have staff who will do their job with the lowest modicum of efficiency, then you cannot be trusted to hold high political office. (I’m looking at you, Chris Christie.)
You CANNOT excuse the offense by saying that you’ll speak to anyone, anywhere—because that either says that you’re oblivious (and therefore cannot be trusted with high office and the public’s trust), or that you simply don’t care about anything but expediency and your own electability (and therefore cannot be trusted with high office and the public’s trust).
(And Scalise’s offense is particularly rancid, in that, by 2002, David Duke—whose name was all over the rally, whose books were being hawked at the rally, was not only well-known on the national level for being a white supremacist, he was at the time ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE IN LOUISIANA, for the self-same reason. And Scalise himself had spoken to a Roll Call reporter three years prior about Duke’s attempt at a Congressional seat:
“The novelty of David Duke has worn off,” said Scalise. “The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected. Duke has proven that he can’t get elected, and that’s the first and most important thing.”)
This was no “oops.”
Because THERE IS NO “OOPS.”
First, I was all like
… Then I was all like
But then, I was all like