Introducing James Hodgkinson Gill

If you were lucky enough to miss the screed belched forth by the New Orleans Advocate’s James Gill attacking Steve Scalise for attaining the honor of induction into the Louisiana Politics Hall of Fame earlier this year, here’s our opportunity to relieve you of that delightful omission.

Gill went where none of Louisiana’s other legacy media types will dare to go, illustrating in brilliant detail why the downsizing New Orleans Times-Picayune gleefully put his pen on its chopping block several years back. In a column titled “Donald Trump called Steve Scalise a Louisiana legend, but has he earned that status?” he flat-out trashed the 1st District’s popular congressman and House Majority Whip, in a manner which looked like more than simple ideological partisanship…

Scalise must blush every time he picks up a newspaper, for there is never a discouraging word. He is a strong candidate to rise from Majority Whip to Speaker of the House if the Republicans should retain the U.S. House of Representatives in the fall elections, and is widely regarded as the unifying force Washington so badly needs.

His recovery after being shot by a nutter at baseball practice in Washington last year was regarded as an inspiration on both sides of the aisle. He wins every election with ease.

The nutter in question being Bernie Sanders volunteer and leftist online troll James Hodgkinson, who was killed by Scalise’s security detail after spraying the Republican congressional baseball team with bullets in an attempted assassination which came perilously close to taking Scalise’s life. Gill has only ink and its digital equivalent as his ammunition, but he proceeds to aim for the congressman’s center-mass nonetheless by dredging up the old Lamar White/David Duke sludge…

The only hiccup came a couple of years back when blogger Lamar White revealed that when Scalise was a state legislator in 2002 he had given a speech to a bunch of neo-Nazis convening at a Metairie hotel. Among those present, White wrote, was Kenny Knight, instantly recognizable as David Duke’s long-standing right-hand-man.

Scalise said he didn’t know the kind of people he was talking to, which might have commanded no credence whatsoever if Cedric Richmond, Democratic Congressman from New Orleans, hadn’t stepped forward to guarantee that his suburban pal did not “have a racist bone in his body.”

We’ve gone through that old manufactured scandal countless times, but Gill’s formulation is notably mean-spirited. Perhaps it’s because he’s much more infrequently asked to speak than Scalise, but your author commonly is invited to address various groups and does so to promote the Hayride in much the same way Scalise was promoting an anti-tax agenda as a state representative in 2002 – and when one does one’s best to get the word out one is usually less than concerned about identifying one’s audience. Which is why the entire Lamar White “expose'” of Scalise’s speech to what was advertised as a neighborhood civic association but piggy-backed into a meeting room that later in the day hosted a conference of Duke followers was such a slur at the congressman’s reputation.

Nobody asks Lamar White to speak in public, unless it’s as a prop for failing political candidates with public-relations problems, and so he would lack perspective to accurately discuss such concerns. This must be true of Gill as well.

And now for the naked ideological attack…

Then last week Scalise gave himself a pat on the back in a newspaper column for the recent round of tax cuts. Now that government is letting us keep more of our “hard-earned dollars” — there’s no such thing as an easy buck in the politician’s lexicon — optimism reigned and Scalise was “proud to help shepherd this bill through.” It was morning in America again.

Scalise is such an amiable fellow that only a churl would question his paragon status, especially since he underwent follow-up surgery last week. Here’s what a churl might say.

That boastful column was piffle. The proposition that the tax cuts were a boon for working stiffs is a fraud because they expire and serve only to create the illusion of prosperity for the masses. The real beneficiaries of the legislation are corporations already rolling in cash. The notion that they will convert their windfall to workforce benefits betrays an excessively rosy view of human nature.

The huge deficits resulting from the cuts will hold back the economy for years; one day posterity will have to settle our debts.

Gill is to be commended for articulating Nancy Pelosi’s talking points better than the San Francisco harpy could herself, but it’s a little surprising to see such a dedicated attachment to a bullshit narrative. The federal tax reform bill Scalise whipped into being in the House has already resulted in median weekly earnings rising 1.8 percent year over year from 2017 in the first quarter of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with the unemployment rate having dropped to 4.1 percent the nation is at full employment, if not facing a labor shortage.

As for those huge deficits, perhaps Gill missed the fact the Congressional Budget Office now believes Scalise’s tax cuts mostly pay for themselves, with some 65 percent of the “lost” revenue coming back into the U.S. Treasury through accelerating economic growth it now projects. And yes, the current budget deficits are a stain on Scalise’s resume – but who does he think is the primary driver of runaway government spending? Scalise and his bosses Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan, or Pelosi and Chuck Schumer insisting on domestic largesse to avoid a government shutdown?

To borrow Gill’s word, his spiteful column was piffle. One wonders from where such free-firing invective could originate. And then one happens upon this line…

Nobody who runs for public office is likely to suffer from a lack of self-esteem, but, even at a political gathering, Scalise’s egotism will set him apart. A few weeks back he was one of nine inductees to the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. Honorees were instructed to speak for 3 to 5 minutes each, and they all did until Scalise’s turn came. He droned on and on for almost half an hour under the apparent illusion that every trivial detail of his life story is of consuming interest. By the time he got to dilating on his minor at college, catcalls would have broken out if he hadn’t been a hero.

What Gill neglected to mention is that he was one of those other inductees, and that omission is a good sign of what all of this really is. Scalise upstaged him at the Hall of Fame induction, and this is his revenge. It’s really no more elegant than that, notwithstanding Gill’s refusal to disclose what’s actually going on here.

Our congratulations to Gill for restricting his vengeance to the digital realm. We’ve had enough of the live-fire variety from poisonous, powerless leftist trolls of late.

UPDATE: Given the above, the timing of this couldn’t be much better…

LSU alumnus House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will deliver the keynote address at LSU’s 295th commencement on Friday, May 11, and the main address at the LSU Law Center’s commencement ceremony, on Friday, June 1. Both ceremonies will take place in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

“We are excited to welcome Rep. Steve Scalise back to campus to these commencement ceremonies,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Rep. Scalise is a proud LSU alumnus and great supporter of the university. As he always cheers on his Tigers, the LSU community cheered him on during his recovery from last year’s tragic event, and our welcoming him back for commencement is just small way we can recognize him for his support in helping spread the word on the great things happening at LSU.”

Scalise represents the First Congressional District of Louisiana, which covers much of southeast Louisiana, including the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain and the New Orleans suburbs. He was elected to Congress in May of 2008 after serving in the Louisiana State Legislature from 1996-2008.

Scalise currently serves as the House Majority Whip and also is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He is a graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, La., and LSU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a minor in political science.

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