We only mention this because out pal Rick Shaftan is quoted in it – and what Rick says is spot-on.
But there’s an article in Esquire about how David Duke, who trashed the Raycom debate on Wednesday with an hour-long poor imitation of Al Pacino’s unhinged rant at the end of And Justice For All, makes lots of people in Louisiana nervous.
Duke polls between 3 and 5 percent, enough to qualify him for the November 2 debate, which will be held at the historically black Dillard University. But he believes, much as Trump does, that the polls don’t adequately represent his support, since people may be reluctant to tell a pollster they plan to vote for him. “I’m polling about 20, maybe 25 percent,” he told me, despite a complete lack of evidence to support this claim. “Trump’s basically the same thing. That’s why I think Trump’s gonna win big.”
“That’s really not true,” said Rick Shaftan, a conservative pollster and media consultant who in August polled 400 people in rural Louisiana. “People think he’s a joke. It’s pretty much, he’s just a Klansman and a kook. These are the same people who will trash Black Lives Matter and say they’re a bunch of racists, but then they just think David Duke’s a racist.”
Duke’s been trying for decades now to shake the kook thing, but he’s never managed to do it. He blames the media, who he talks about as some kind of monolithic entity out to punish him for his history. “Nelson Mandela was part of the Communist central committee,” he told me, complaining that headlines about the deceased South African president didn’t call him a “former Communist.” But he also can’t help himself, referring to his status as a “leading white spokesman” and diverting conversations about immigration to pseudo-intellectual riffs on “species” and the fact that Europeans have a “very straight nose.”
Rick nailed it.
For all the attention being given Duke, he’s got very, very little support. This entire enterprise of running for the Senate has been a publicity stunt to promote various newsletters and other mass communications ventures Duke uses to gin up a living. He’s about building a mail and e-mail list and a social media following that he can monetize, and that’s it.
There are some people who get taken in by that scam. Those are the racist bogeymen the leftist media and outfits like the Southern Poverty Law Center make a big deal out of; the latter trots them out as some major threat to liberty and justice when the vast majority of them are shut-ins and dopes in undershirts. They don’t represent anything of a political movement. Interestingly, it’s dopey Democrats in the media who prop him up – often in spite of their stated aims. We saw that yesterday with the Lamar White/Raycom clownshow.
To publicize Duke and the oddballs who support him is an attempt to delegitimize Donald Trump and the Republican Party. It’s true that at his worst Trump needs little help with that, but nobody in Trump’s campaign has any use for David Duke. Nobody in Louisiana Republican politics has any use for him, either, because white supremacism doesn’t sell in Republican politics here.
And to the credit of Olivia Nuzzi, the Esquire reporter who wrote this piece, she actually brought that up with Duke.
He turned to his three male volunteers: a youthful teacher from Tennessee, a middle-aged law-enforcement official from Washington state and an older Austrian lawyer, all of whom are living with him in his house in Mandeville and none of whom wanted to tell me their full names. “Where’s your hats?” Duke asked them. “You need to put your hats on.” Obediently, they did, their foreheads compelling all to vote for him and for the Republican presidential nominee.
The Trump campaign didn’t know about the hats. When I told him, campaign spokesman Jason Miller said “We have rejected and rebuked any groups and individuals associated with a message of hate and will continue to do so. We have never intentionally engaged directly or indirectly with such groups and have no intention of ever doing so, and in fact, we’ve gone a step further and said that we don’t want votes from people who think this way.”
Duke isn’t bothered much by the rejection. “I don’t care,” he told me. “They don’t care about hats, they don’t care about any of that. It’s not an issue. That’s just hats that we wear around Louisiana.” He understands, he said, that the campaign may be caught up in “politics,” and he’s politically astute enough to know that, as a general election strategy, accepting the cool embrace of a former Klansman who now calls himself a “human rights activist” but still argues the very racist idea that people are better off keeping to their own “heritage” isn’t really feasible.
In other words, Duke is using Trump to make himself “respectable,” which the media is happy to participate in since they believe that makes Trump less so.
But it really doesn’t. All this attention does is give David Duke more attention and more ability to turn a buck spouting his weird mixture of white nationalism, anti-Israel sludge and harangues against globalist bankers. They’re creating him out of nothing.
The good news is this isn’t working. Duke will finish in 6th place, or worse, in that Senate race on Tuesday and he’s likely to end up worse than the five percent he gathered in the Mason Dixon poll which earned him a seat at the Raycom debate.
And the only lasting effect of David Duke’s candidacy might be that this is the last year Raycom is going to pay Mason Dixon for a poll of Louisiana’s statewide races.