‘David Duke was on the phone, talking about Barack Obama. Yes, that David Duke: After a query lodged at his website, the infamous ex-Klansman had responded via a mysterious e-mail address–he appeared in my inbox as “info45.” (Duke regularly changes address to combat hate mail–the kind he doesn’t like, that is.) Duke said he was traveling in Europe, where he often meets with fellow Holocaustdeniers, and agreed to discuss the possibility that the United States might soon elect a black president.
‘Putting it mildly, one would not expect Duke to applaud this development. During Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, after all, Duke said Jackson’s election “would be the greatest tragedy ever to befall this country.” Warning that “the white majority in this country are losing their rights,” Duke announced his own counter-candidacy, one whose main purpose seemed to be hounding Jackson.
‘Yet, far from railing at Obama’s rise, Duke seems almost nonchalant about it. Self-described white nationalists like himself, he explained cordially, “don’t see much difference in Barack Obama than Hillary Clinton–or, for that matter, John McCain.” Sure, Duke considers Obama “a racist individual,” citing his Afrocentric Chicago church. But soon the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of White People was critiquing Obama as overhyped and insubstantial in terms you might hear from, say, Clinton strategist Mark Penn. “They say he’s for change. What change? He’s become almost a cult figure. I don’t see any shining light around Obama’s head. I don’t see any halos,” Duke said.’