Scalise Back on Message

Maybe I’m reading too much into a bland Sherman/Bresnahan piece at Politico featuring bland remarks from House GOP Whip Steve Scalise about the need for Republicans to always, always, always be as conservative as possible. But it reminds me of those post-rehabilitation remarks you hear from all sorts of disgraced public figures to signal things are back to normal and they don’t have to acknowledge their problems anymore.

Scalise’s sit-down with POLITICO is a kind a reemergence after several trying months for the Louisiana Republican. He’s kept a low profile for the early part of 2015, after it was revealed that he once attended a meeting organized by a white supremacist in Louisiana. There were also questions about how effective the whip operation was, which came as part of broader criticism of the entire House Republican leadership.

This is another way of saying that Scalise, who was brought into the leadership as a sop to the hard-core conservatives who had been giving John Boehner such a hard time, first appeared to be too conservative and then not conservative enough. Now he’s letting us know he’s “just right.” To replace a therapeutic with a theological metaphor, by intoning the conservative movement’s litany on moderate Republican presidential candidates being stone losers, Scalise is like a priest who’s just survived a heresy trial reciting the Nicene Creed with special fervor after being allowed to go back to the pulpit. We are supposed to forget there was ever a problem.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.