David Duke is one of those gifts that keep on giving. As this is a free country, Duke has as much right as anyone to make public statements of support for political candidates. Apparently he's too dumb to realize -- unless you want to use your imagination and think of him as an agent-provocateur -- that he can only make trouble for anyone he supports publicly. Add to that a confused Donald Trump, who had forgotten that he'd denounced Duke many years earlier, and now we have rabid right-wing Republicans playing a race card against the GOP front runner. Trump, they say, has a moral obligation to disavow Duke's endorsement, and Trump has done so, though apparently not to the satisfaction of his rivals and some leaders of the party, who fail to see how this, like so many attacks on Trump, can backfire on them. Usually when Duke endorses a Republican, the Republican response to inevitable criticism is to remind people that until very recently a former Klansman was a very powerful Democratic U.S. Senator. This time Republicans are doing the criticizing, while Democrats are waiting their turn, but Trump's supporters, who feel no need to apologize for anything this year, may find his Republican critics as hypocritical as they claim Democrats are.
Isn't any Republican -- especially any southern Republican -- hypocritical to demand that Trump disavow the endorsement of a white supremacist? Does anyone doubt that Sen. Cruz and Sen. Rubio received endorsements from tens or hundreds of thousands of white supremacists -- presumably holding their noses while endorsing Cuban-Americans, however redeemed by their Castrophobia -- during their senatorial campaigns? Yet neither man volunteered to have those endorsements stricken from his vote total. That's understandable at a practical level, since we can't know exactly which voters were white supremacists, but neither man can really believe that he received no white-supremacist votes. Of course, Republicans like to say that there aren't any white supremacists
out there except for the pathological few who can't help advertising their
bias with white sheets or brown shirts. If you're guileless enough to avow yourself a white supremacist, you can be disavowed, but if you keep it on the down low -- on the radio call-in line or on the Internet or at the bar, for instance, or nowhere but at the polls -- it's all good. Someone like Duke proves useful when right-wingers want to
smear their rivals on the right, but Republicans will need to be careful about that
tactic this year. Consistency may demand that if Trump can't have a white-supremacist endorsement, his rivals should refuse white-supremacist votes in advance. Normally that would be a no-risk tactic on the "no one's a white supremacist" principle, but this time people might actually take offense. This year the white supremacists probably are siding with Trump, whatever his own actual feelings on race, but their endorsing him for their stupid reasons shouldn't stop anyone else from supporting Trump for their own unrelated stupid reasons.