By STEVIE WONDERS
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise must think we’re stupid. Or maybe he thinks we’re blind.
Or maybe he’s power-hungry.
Like most people watching the events of Jan. 6, 2021, Scalise and I were shocked when we saw what was going on. An angry mob of rioters started an insurrection, breaching the U.S. Capitol as our Congress was in the process of certifying Democrat Joe Biden as the indisputable elected president over then-incumbent President Donald Trump. I know Scalise didn’t like it because he said so on The Megyn Kelly Show on Jan. 18, 2021.
During the podcast interview, Kelly noted that Scalise came under attack during a June 2017 congressional baseball game and then again on Jan. 6, 2021. His Capitol security detail rushed to save his life each time. Scalise said that on Jan. 6, they whisked him out of the Capitol to a secure location “with some of the other House and Senate leadership, Republican and Democrat.”
Clearly with fresh emotions streaming through his head, he reflected on what happened on 1/6. “You don’t think that the Capitol is going to be breached,” he said. “It’s such a sad thing that happened,” he added.
In a moment of honesty, Scalise told Kelly “Look I’ve talked about [how] President Trump should’ve been unequivocal in denouncing what had happened the day of the violent attack and he wasn’t that day.”
Was that you, Mr. Scalise?
In October, the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6th Attack on the United States Capitol shared a video of Democratic and Republican leaders in a safe, secret space that horrendous day. Among others with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an undisclosed location were Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY); Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — and Scalise, the Republican House Whip. Standing maybe 2 feet from Pelosi with a mask on, Scalise watched as Pelosi pressed for military help. Scalise chimed in, asking when help might arrive.
Working to shield the former president who encouraged and incited the violence, Republican leaders started a misdirection campaign. McCarthy, Scalise and others blamed Pelosi for not protecting the Capitol. They went on a national network that should be ashamed of including the word “news” in its name and held a news conference to question Pelosi’s role. They said she did not seek help before the Jan. 6 insurrection or on the day of the insurrection. Multiple fact-checks proved the clams false.
This is the same Steve Scalise who spoke to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a group of White nationalists co-founded by well-recognized Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Years later, in 2014, respected blogger Lamar White Jr. reported the poor decision he made in 2002 when he was a Louisiana state legislator. Scalise said he didn’t know they were tied to neo-Nazis and racists. I don’t think there’s video of him with their signs. If there was, perhaps Scalise might’ve been called a liar.
As concerns mounted, he issued a statement. “It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views that groups like these hold. I am very disappointed that anyone would try to infer otherwise for political gain,” it read in part.
He can apologize now. Will he? Probably not.
If he were a better man than a politician, he might consider something like: “What I said in the summer was a mistake I regret, and I acknowledge that I was one of the Democrats and Republicans hiding in a safe place seeking National Guard and other help,” he might say. “I am very disappointed that I let this go on for so long when the Jan. 6 video clearly shows that I knew that Nancy Pelosi was protecting me and others as she sought help. I lied and I ask Speaker Pelosi and voters to accept my sincere apology.”
When Scalise was in critical condition after being shot at a congressional baseball game, Pelosi recognized that his life meant more than politics. Realizing that bipartisan should supercede being civil, human and kind, as the game proceeded the next day without Scalise, Pelosi said “we will all be Team Scalise.”
But Rep Scalise must think we’re stupid
But he likely won’t.
Because there’s video proof that he lied. Because he’s expected to handily beat Democratic challenger Katie Darling for the seat he’s held for 14 years. And because he wants to hold onto, and gain more, and influence and power in Congress.
It’s because he doesn’t care that parishoners in his home church, St. Catherine of Siena in Metairie, might look at him as a liar. It’s because he’d rather teach his family being a liar doesn’t matter.
Scalise sent a staffer to say what he’s said isn’t what he meant. Yeah, sure. Scalise should explain. He should apologize to Pelosi and voters.
Acknowledge the lie, Mr. Scalise. Join Team America.