He’s a discredited ex-politician and agitator who was prosecuted for misusing the money sent to him by credulous supporters. Who is taking David Duke seriously anymore?
Turns out it’s easy enough for our Louisiana-born former Imperial Wizard to rattle the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.
This is a controversy that does Donald Trump no good but reminds us of the ways that Duke can seize the spotlight, long after his political relevance was thought to be over.
Trump is now blaming a faulty earpiece in a long-distance interview for his garbled answer to a question about Duke. We don’t understand how a “very bad earpiece” can be blamed for Trump’s wishy-washy response to repeated questions about Duke’s endorsement.
There’s a right answer to that question, and everything else is a wrong answer.
Trump’s rivals are entirely correct in criticizing the comment made on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
“I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.”
The later “I disavow” on social media does not constitute the kind of answer we’d expect from a serious contender for the presidency. And having been active in politics during the time that Duke was making his runs for higher office in Louisiana during the 1990s — generating the kind of national news that even Trump could not ignore — today’s candidate doesn’t have the excuse of not knowing what kind of poisonous figure had endorsed him.
Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee in 2012, joined in the disparagement of Trump. “His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not the character of America,” Romney said.
We don’t see the Duke endorsement as politically consequential, although Duke is enough of a narcissist to say that his positive comments don’t constitute a formal endorsement. We must wait for the formal pronouncement from this odious nobody?
Nor is Trump, or any other candidate, responsible for who is endorsing him. But it’s a campaign failure for Trump, who appears to be willing to pander to the worst instincts of people.
Making America great again is not a matter of lowering our sights when, in the form of David Duke, the evils of racism and anti-Semitism intrude upon American politics.