David Duke is polling better among African-Americans than Donald J. Trump.
That’s the lead of a Washington Post story about the U.S. Senate candidacy of a former Ku Klux Klansman.
Uh, that would be Duke.
Part of me should be shocked — shocked, I tell ya! — to know that a certifiable hater would do better than the Republican presidential nominee among black Americans.
Here’s the Washington Post story.
Duke is running as a Republican for the Senate seat in Louisiana, where he’s been a fixture for years on the fringes of the political mainstream. He has served in the Louisiana Legislature. I’ve never met the guy, although I did venture once across the state line to cover his unsuccessful bid to become governor. That was in 1991.
That’s where another part of me finds this report not quite so surprising. Dismaying, yes. Surprising? I’ll tell you a quick story.
I was working in Beaumont, Texas, at the Enterprise in the early 1990s. Duke was running for governor against the colorful incumbent “Cajun Edwin” Edwards. I thought I’d drive a few miles across the Sabine River into Louisiana to take an up-close look at the political climate there.
I went to Vinton, La., got out of my car and started visiting with plain ol’ folks about the campaign.
I met an African-American woman who told me — and I am not making this up — that she was going to vote for Duke. I was stunned to hear it. I recall today that she recognized the disbelief in my face and explained herself.
Duke, she said, sought to rid the welfare rolls of slackers. She was tired of those who were living off the government dole while doing nothing to improve themselves or their condition in life.
It did not matter to her that Duke once was a grand wizard of the KKK, an organization with a long, sordid and bloody history of violence against African-Americans, Jews and Third World immigrants.
This woman was living in the here and now and, by golly, David Duke was her man!
Does David Duke deserve a place in the U.S. Senate, where he would be voting on laws intended to govern all Americans? In my view, absolutely not! It’s not my call to make.
Still, the idea that this guy — of all guys running for Congress — would poll better among African-Americans than a major-party presidential nominee simply makes my head spin.