“What does the party do next about David Duke? ” a reporter asked President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
It was just a month into Bush Sr.’s presidency, and he was facing a few questions about whether he regretted taking a stand against former Ku Klux Klan president David Duke’s bid for government office in Louisiana.
Faced with a few questions about whether he should have kept his opinion to himself, Bush stood firm in his decision, answering, “Maybe there was some feeling in Metairie, Louisiana, that the president of the United States committing himself in a state parliamentary ballot was improper or overkill. I’ve read that, and I can’t deny that. But what I can confirm is: I did what I did because of principle.”
In November 1991, Bush was again given the opportunity to interval himself from white supremacists like Duke. This time, he did so even more forcefully.
After saying he would “strongly” counsel voters not to vote for Duke, who was then the Republican nominee for Louisiana governor, Bush offered a longer cause 😛 TAGEND
“When someone is saying that the Holocaust never took place, then I don’t believe that person ever deserves one iota of public trust. And when someone has so recently endorsed nazism, it is inconceivable that such person or persons can legitimately aspire to leadership — in a leader character in a free civilization. And when someone has a long preserve, an ugly chronicle, of combating racism and of sexism, that enter simply cannot be obliterated by the glib hyperbole of a political campaign.
So, I believe that David Duke is an insincere charlatan. I believe he is attempting to hoodwink the voters of Louisiana, and I believe that he should be rejected for what he is and what he stands for.”
Democrat Edwin Edwards demolished Duke a week subsequently, coming away with 61% of the voting rights to Duke’s 39%.
There are times when doing the right thing entails bucking your own party and risking damage to your own political future. Bush knew the risks and seemed at peace with that moral decision.
Less than a year after helping elect Edwards, a southern Democratic minister, Bush was defeated by another: Bill Clinton. Bush’s 1991 accusation of Duke came as his approval rating — which was as high as 89% in March 1991 — had begun to falter. Perhaps the de facto endorsement of Duke’s Democratic opponent hurt Bush’s 1992 prospects — he did, after all, lose Louisiana in his reelection offer — but maybe some things are more important than politics .
Whether it was betraying racists like Duke, publicly resigning his National Rifle Association membership, giving his son a exercise in ethics, or plainly finding prayer in demolish, George H.W. Bush been demonstrated that sometimes legislators can rise above politics . While there are many things one may or may not like about his policies and actions in power, he told his humanity gleam through in difficult moments.