Steve Scalise is the Republican Congressman from Louisiana who has been having a bit of a rough time in recent days. It was recently reported that he may have spoken to a racist organization about tax policy twelve years ago. Scalise, for his part, says that if he did this, it was a mistake that he is deeply sorry for. He argues that he did not know the group he was speaking before was racist, and that he was only there to speak about tax policy. (The racists in question, among them David Duke, say that Scalise is being honest about what happened and that he didn’t actually speak at their convention but a meeting of businessmen that happened in the same location but before their convention began.)
Newt Gingrich was on CBS’ Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer this past weekend when he decried the terrible double standard that exists among liberals and the media. Gingrich pointed out that Scalise gave one speech 12 years ago and is being hammered on it, but President Obama sat for more than a decade under the teaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and he got a free pass!
The fact is, you have a president who for years went to a church whose pastor said stunningly hateful things about Americans. The president explains, he didn’t hear any of them. OK? And we all gave him a pass. He gave a great speech in Philadelphia as a candidate. We said, OK, we got it.
Now, he went to that church a long time and listened to Reverend Wright a long time. You have other cases. You had Bob Byrd, who was the majority leader, who was a Klan leader. You had Hugo Black, who was a justice who was a Klan leader, but they were Democrats. So being in the Klan was OK.
The fact is, the only African-American member of the Louisiana delegation, a Democrat, says that Steve Scalise does not have a racist bone in his body. Mia Love, the brand-new first Republican African- American woman in Congress, said he has been extraordinarily helpful to her.
Scalise is a deeply committed Catholic who condemns hate organizations and, to the best of our knowledge, gave a speech on taxes 12 years ago. Now, for a 12-year-old speech to be blown up into a national story I think is frankly one more example of a one-sided view of reality.