Steve Scalise, the House Republican Whip-elect, appears to be surviving the flap over his appearance at a David Duke-organized event. It’s good to be able to welcome the New Year with a word of praise for the party I oppose. I’m glad that the GOP has decided to come out of the closet as openly racist.

The event itself has been misdescribed in the press as “white supremacist;” in fact, David Duke’s keynote speech didn’t even mention black-white issues, instead focusing on anti-Jewish themes. “Neo-Nazi” would give a much clearer picture of what EURO was really about.

Still – as even Erick Erickson has pointed out – there was never any doubt of what David Duke, the Klan Wizard, was about. He’s the kind of batsh*t-crazy racist who isn’t sure Jews are actually “white” (and, a generation or two ago, would have had the same doubts about the Irish and the Italians).

So what did Steve Scalise, aspiring Louisiana politician, have to say about David Duke?

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.

Well, that couldn’t be clearer, could it? “The first and most important thing” is to get elected. Politicians who frankly campaign on their hatred of blacks and Jews can’t get elected. So voters who “care about” hating blacks and Jews need to find politicians like Steve Scalise, who “believes in” Duke’s message but won’t say so explicitly, because such politicians can get elected.

That sums up the current strategy of the Confederate Republicans about as clearly as I’ve ever heard it summed up: seek the votes of bigots by winking at them, and by pursuing policies that are hostile to African-American interests without being explicitly racist. So it’s entirely appropriate that Scalise should have been chosen for, and remain in, the House Republican leadership.

It’s also entirely appropriate, of course, for those who don’t approve of bigotry not to be taken in. Somebody needs to explain that slowly to the ADL.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.