Want to know the secret that everyone else figured out and apparently House Majority Whip Steve Scalise apparently missed about protecting a reputation? Here it is.

If you don’t want to be associated with racists or other unsavory types, don’t associate with racists or other unsavory types. It’s that simple.

Other Republicans have come to defend Scalise’s foible. Speaker John Boehner called the act “an error in judgment.” Others have claimed that it was a lapse in judgment, and Boehner went on to say that Scalise is a man of “high integrity and good character.”

What a perfect sentiment that it should be the case that Scalise’s engagement with the racist group European American Unity and Rights Organization was merely a highly understandable error in judgment. Unfortunately for Scalise, but quite fortunately for the public at large, politicians are rightly judged by their actions and not their intentions.

For this reason, it is right to judge Scalise for his activities and the Republican party’s tacit approval of it. If Scalise knew the group was persuaded by racist sentiments when he associated with them, then Scalise deserves to be known for that association. If Scalise did not know that the group held racist views, then his recklessness should be widely known as well.

The Republican party has a problem with being reckless, in both action and word. Moreover, the party has set itself on course to have to court the same sorts of folks as David Duke and those of the European American Unity and Rights Organization. The party seems quite pleased to entertain these groups and welcomes their votes.

It’s not just Scalise. It’s the party writ large. Scalise’s “error in judgment”, it would seem, according to the GOP, was that the association should be so openly known.