Ray Mosby 1/23/2015

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mosby: Never good for a politico to be linked to name David Duke

ROLLING FORK—Well, I must say that as we at this newspaper headed into our badly needed end-of-year break, it never occurred to me that coming out of it there would be any reason whatsoever to mention the name David Duke.

But, like the subtitle of a very bad Hammer Studios film of the 1970s, “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave,” I guess it really is “Hard to Keep a Good Man Down.”

It seems that the U.S. House Majority Whip, one Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) is juggling a hot potato these days after it surfaced that while still a local Louisiana politico back in 2002, he gave a speech to an outfit named the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (with a name like that, it has to be good), which just happens to be a white separatist group founded by none other than our old pal David Duke.

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And since it is never good to be a politician who finds his name in the same paragraph of stories with that of David Duke, the good Rep. Scalise is offering up the standby defense of “Yeah, I did it, but I didn’t know I was doing it when I did it,” a defense undercut just a tad by the fact that in 2002 Republican politics in Louisiana it was real hard not to know anything that was in any way connected to David Duke, one of the very few American figures to whom the term neo-Nazi is actually applicable.

However, unless some other jack-boots drop, this will likely prove to be a relatively minor dust-up for the number three Republican in the House, in large measure due to the fact that there are not enough Democrats left in the House to even try to make much of it.

 But it does at least prompt an old columnist’s mind to resurrect one of the more colorful little tales of modern American politics, one that is quintessentially Louisianan in its sordidness.

It was the 1991 gubernatorial race in that state, whose politics have always walked hand-in-hand with corruption and it featured an open primary in which former Gov. Edwin Edwards, linked to every scandal and payola scheme known to man, finished first, and Duke, with all his racist, separatist, hate-mongering baggage, actually came in second, forcing a runoff.

It was, to say the least, more than a little bit scary and embarrassing to a state with even Louisiana’s reputation, and it was that sentiment which produced an eventual Edwards win, but more interestingly, what I think remains as the single greatest political bumper sticker in American history—“Vote for the crook. It’s important.”

And that, I reckon, is the almost perfect legacy for David Duke.

So what else?

Well, the Miss. Legislature convened, once again bringing about the single most dangerous period for those of us in this state. We can look for lots of posturing, much pomp and circumstance, a great many symbolic (if mainly meaningless) bills debated ad nauseum and figures in and out of legislative leadership jockeying for positions of one sort or another.

That’s because this is a statewide election year, and hence, none of the pols want to do anything actually substantial and risk irritating their constituents. The only exceptions to this might be to take actions which would result in further making the lives of poor folks miserable, since poor folks don’t vote for the folks in charge.

And, crazy as it is, 2015 also marks the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, with Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush already pronounced as the media’s anointed front runners for their respective parties.

Both of them may be there at the end, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on that. Bush, a moderate by Republican standards, has the problem of getting the nomination  of his increasingly conservative party. And while the Democratic nod is hers for the taking, it should be remembered that Hillary is not the candidate her husband was and before a fellow named Obama came along, was the single most  politically polarizing figure in the country.

And then there’s this: Before the last two (2012 and 2008), you have  to go all the way back to 1976 to find a presidential ticket without either a Bush on Clinton name on it somewhere. Does the country want that again? Welcome to 2015.

Ray Mosby is publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot.