Some liberal journalists with short memories and axes to grind get their jollies from stoking the fires of racism.

On Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald posted online an Associated Press story headlined “House GOP leader once addressed white supremacists.”

The Republican leader in question is House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who, in 2002, committed an unpardonable sin when he “appeared” at a convention in his home state of a Ku Klux Klan organization founded by David Duke.

Had the AP reporter done a little research, he could have cited a more prestigious authority on white supremacy. In 2002, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd – the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history – was chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Byrd was also known as “the prince of pork,” for the amount of federal largesse he mined for his impoverished state of West Virginia.

But Byrd once occupied another powerful position: “Exalted Cyclops” of the Ku Klux Klan. And he further distinguished himself by filibustering against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

At Byrd’s death in 2010, President Obama said of him: “He had the courage to stand firm in his principles, but also the courage to change over time.”

Political pundits sometimes refer to the Rev. Al Sharpton as the president’s “go-to” man on racial matters.

Having acquired similar expertise on racial matters by appearing at a convention 12 years ago, U.S. Rep. Scalise may henceforth be known as the Republican Party’s “go-to” man on white racism. But he will never be forgiven.

Walter J. Eno