December 15, 2002
POLITICS AND RACE: For
Republicans and conservatives, particularly white Republicans
and conservatives, the first step in reaching out to African-Americans
is there has to be an acknowledgment of the profound pain and
suffering endured by the black community throughout America's
history. The average black person will not even to listen to a
Republican if they don't think that candidate doesn't "get
it" when it comes to what it was like to be black in America,
in our country's first two-hundred years.
So the issue
with Trent Lott isn't whether he is a racist or a segregationist.
The issue is, does he "get it?" When he waxes nostalgically
about Jefferson Davis or Strom Thurmond the problem isn't that
he is suggesting we go back to slavery or Jim Crow. The problem
is he seems to have no understanding and shows no empathy of what
it was like to be black in Jefferson Davis's Confederacy or Strom
Thurmond's Dixiecrat South. And like I
said last week, for someone who was born in Mississippi in
1941, grew up in Mississippi in the '40s and '50's, and attended
the University of Mississippi in the early 1960's you have to
wonder how the hell he doesn't "get it"?
And you know
what, I don't care. I accept Trent Lott's apology and I don't
think Lott is a racist, but this isn't about Trent Lott. This
is about the future of the Republican Party and the future of
this great nation. Contrary to the hysterical spinnings of the
liberal left (Paul
Herbert) the GOP is not the party of racists, the Republican
Party isn't the party that winks, nods and throws "code words"
to racists. Liberals and Democrats may want America to think that
is what the Republican Party is all about, but that simply is
not the truth.
does the leftist press remind the country that a greater proportion
of Republican Senators and Representatives voted for the 1964
civil rights bill than did Democrats? But Republicans aren't guiltless
on the issue of race as they did embrace a "Southern Strategy"
that exploited racial tensions and in many ways was the foundation
of the current GOP powerbase in the new South. But the reality
is those tactics, where they were used, in the 60's, 70's and
to a lesser a degree the 80's are now thankfully mostly a thing
of the past. While there may be a few isolated campaigns where
those tactics may still be employed they are now dwarfed by the
Democratic Party's racially polarizing tactics. The liberal press
completely turns a blind eye to the lies
and hatred the Democratic Party spews toward Republicans in
the final weeks of campaigns in order to turn out the black vote
in the 90% plus numbers they need to win elections.
I won't even
get into the ridiculous double standard and hypocrisy of the Democrats
when it comes to race where Senators Byrd and Hollings racist
remarks go completely ignored by the left. But this current fiasco
isn't a Democratic problem, it's a Republican problem, and because
the GOP does have the historical baggage of sometimes using racially
divisive strategies in the post-civil rights years (1964 through
the early eighties) the Party can not have as its leader
some one who doesn't "get it" when it comes to race
in America. John M.
December 14, 2002
THE APOLOGY: From the minute
I heard Lott was holding a press conference not to resign but
to apologize again, I had the sinking feeling it was going
to be a train wreck - and that's exactly what it was. I didn't
have quite the visceral reaction to Lott's apology that some
people had, but as soon as the Senator launched into his family's
sharecropper background and begin reciting the names of all the
black people he's ever known, helped, employed, etc., I felt like
reaching through the television and cuffing the guy. He just doesn't
he won't resign because he's not a racist and stepping down would
effectively be admitting that he is one. Sorry pal, it doesn't
work that way. That's the trick about public service: we can never
know what's in the hearts of our leaders. The best we can do is
to examine their statements, actions, and voting records and then
make a decision as to whether we want them to represent us. Lott
has spent a lifetime building such a record and now he's reaping
the fruits of it. This isn't to say Lott is and has always been
an out-and-out racist, but that his remarks about Thurmond - even
if they were meant benignly - represent the tipping point in a
career that has been spent being too tolerant of intolerance and
too cozy with abhorrent organizations like the CCC. Such a record
simply isn't acceptable for one of the national leaders of the
Republican party. Nor, in my opinion, should it be acceptable
for the people of Mississippi - but that's for them to decide.
In the end,
nothing has changed or will change. Lott can shed tears, go on
BET for hours, schedule meeting after meeting with the Congressional
Black Caucus, and pass as many bills as he wants to try and placate
African-American groups, but it's too late. The train has left
the station and there's no bringing it back.
it looks like the Senate Republicans are incapable of doing the
right thing. The fact they all chose to sit on the sidelines and
wait to see if Lott could extricate himself from the situation
instead of publicly denouncing his comments as antithetical to
the ideals of the Republican party is a pathetic abdication of
their responsibilities as leaders in this country.
If you can stomach any more discussion of the Lott ordeal here's
your menu for the Sunday shows. -
T. Bevan 9:07 am
December 13, 2002
LOTS MORE LOTT: The President's
speech was right on the mark, though I'm still disappointed
by the silence of Senate Republicans. But let me ask, is anybody
else tired of this story?
it's gone mainstream, things have gotten a little out of hand.
Exhibit A is today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution which carries
five, that's right, five stories on Lott including this one:
Joke Renews Lott's War With NOW
Now the guy
is an unrepentant sexist and racist. I certainly don't want to
get into the business of defending Trent Lott, but I think it's
worth noting that now that the floodgates are open, everyone is
rabidly sifting through Lott's record ascribing a racist motivation
to every vote he's ever taken and everything he's ever said. Again,
given Lott's record people have the right to be skeptical, but
that doesn't necessarily make it all so.
Marshall, for instance. He's posted a ton on this story (most
of which I agree with, by the way), but I think in his aggressive
push to assemble evidence of Lott's bigotry he's fired a few blanks.
post about Lott voting against establishing a "Chaney,
Goodman and Schwerner Day" in honor of three civil rights
workers murdered in Mississippi in 1964. Marshall presents this
item as another "gotcha" on Lott and suggests that because
they made a movie about the tragic event it somehow has more moral
weight and thus confirms Lott's racist motivations. As I said
before, Josh has a right to be skeptical and is free to ascribe
racism where and when he wants, but this one struck me as a bit
of an overreach. Sort of like saying that anyone who votes against
the establishment of a "Matthew Shepard Day" is a homophobe.
I half-expect to see Josh breaking more news:
EXCLUSIVE: Three years ago Trent Lott revealed in an interview
that he doesn't like chocolate ice cream! Yet another example
of Lott's troubled racial history.
of course, but you get my point.
yesterday also left a sour taste in my mouth, only in the
sense that it seemed like a personal vendetta and a chance for
former CNN President Tom Johnson to publicly assuage his own guilt
over his involvement in the fraternity episode. Just the facts,
anything I'd like this to end. More specifically, I'd like Trent
Lott to do the right thing and end it himself - and soon.
MR. FITZGERALD: A quick expansion on my point above about
the disappointing response of Senate Republicans. For a very vulnerable
Republican Senator hoping to avoid a primary challenge and seeking
to be reelected in 2004 in a state where he will need moderate
Republican and Independent votes, I'm speechless as to why Senator
Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) hasn't publicly denounced Trent Lott's
comments and nominated someone else for Majority Leader. Decrying
Lott's remarks isn't just good politics, it's unequivocally the
right thing to do. And Fitzgerald - who has made a reputation
for himself as an indpendent by breaking ranks with the GOP on
many issues - could do himself and the party a whole lot of good
by stepping up and taking the lead. Not to mention it's easy to
imagine how much fun Jesse Jackson will have in his hometown wreaking
havoc over the issue if Fitzgerald remains silent.
REPUBLICANS: A reader emails the following thought for Republicans:
lucky we are that Thurmond's birthday party was in December
and not September or October. If it had been earlier, we would
not have regained control of the Senate. Just as practical politican,
Senator Lott should understand his actions threaten Republicn
control of the Senate in 2004. But with Lott, just like Clinton
and Gingrich, it is all about him. Me first these guys say.
Screw the Party or the Country.
right on both counts - with the exception of Gingrich. Whether
you agreed with him or not, Gingrich was a leader with a vision
and ultimately resigned when he realized that he was hurting the
party. If Lott gives a damn about the GOP then he should step
up (or down, technically) and take his medicine.
RACE BEGIN: New
poll on the '04 Dem Presidential race showing that although
Kerry leads in New Hampshire, Gore holds strong leads in Iowa
and South Carlolina. But if Gore chooses not to run, Kerry makes
big gains in both those states. It must make 'ol Al feel pretty
good having the entire party watching his every move with baited
breath and holding them in suspended animation until he makes
a decision. Or should I say until he officially announces that
he's running again? -
T. Bevan 8:30 am
December 12, 2002
MORE APOLOGIES: No, not from
us, from Senator Lott. I caught his phone interview on Larry
King last night. It's a virtual carbon copy of his interview
Hannity and even though he apologizes repeatedly and says
"the right things", it's not enough. The biggest problem
is that he's just not believable. I agree with Andrew
Sullivan, Lott's answers are stuffed so full of Clintonian
weasel words and clichés - including a pathetic reference
to George Bush "let's be uniters not dividers" line
- they dilute the conveyance of any sincere regret.
isn't that Republicans want Lott to issue public apologies ad
nauseum (even a thousand more interviews with Larry King aren't
going to help) but that they seem to be asking for something that
Lott can't give: a convincing expression of regret that repudiates
segregation and racism. But even that probably won't be enough.
the guy at the fancy dinner party who decides it's the perfect
time to tell the joke about the Rabbi, the Priest and Lesbian
to the horror of all the guests. And even though he may go on
later to apologize and say it was in bad taste, it's too late
- the words are already out there - and everyone is left wondering
how in the hell the guy could think the joke was remotely funny
in the first place. When something like that happens (especially
more than once), you don't get invited back to dinner.
Here's the predictable result of Trent Lott's idiotic comments:
Republican Party has become a haven for white racist attitudes
and anti-black policies. The party of Lincoln is now a safe
house for bigotry. It's the party of the Southern strategies
and the Willie Horton campaigns and Bob Jones University and
the relentless and unconscionable efforts to disenfranchise
black voters. For those who now think the Democratic Party is
not racist enough, the answer is the G.O.P. And there are precious
few voices anywhere in the G.O.P. willing to step up and say
that this is wrong."
Herbert in today's NY Times. For a liberal like Herbert who
is constantly harping on the evils of stereotyping, he wastes
no time painting the entire GOP as racist. (And who knew that
lower taxes, school choice, faith-based charitable programs, and
more accountability in education were "anti-black policies?")
the last line of the quote, even though Herbert omits any reference
to the considerable outrage of conservative pundits that has been
zipping around the Internet and voiced on many editorial pages
(see today's RCP front
page), I think he's referring
to this. It's a good question: where are the Republican voices
in the United States Senate condemning Trent Lott's comments?
the "collegiality" of the Senate and forget about defending
the honor of a fellow Senator. This isn't about Trent Lott anymore
(if it ever was), it's about the party. Lott's comments - whether
they were intended, unintended, racist or not racist - have seriously
injured the Republican party, plain and simple. For that reason
alone he should step aside. He has damaged his ability and his
credibility to lead the GOP. It's high time that someone, preferably
a number of GOP Senators and President Bush, explicitly condemn
Lott's comments and ask for Republicans to find a new Majority
T. Bevan 7:05am
December 11, 2002
APOLOGY: No blog yesterday
- we had a couple of issues with the site that needed our urgent
attention. Don't worry, we're back.
Reason Magazine has long been a favorite source of ours and their
new blog called "Hit
and Run" is a nice addition and exactly the sort of blog
treatment you'd expect from them. Take a look.
TIME: It looks like Trent Lott has been choosing
his words poorly since 1980 with respect to Strom Thurmond's
1948 Presidential candidacy. The last two paragraphs of this story
nearly made me lose my stomach:
Crespino, a fellow at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.,
who had the Clarion-Ledger article as part of his research,
said he included Mr. Lott's comments in the introduction to
his dissertation for their "shock value.
believe he said it in 1980, let alone 2002," he said. "These
kinds of appeals to the racist right have been the G.O.P.'s
dirty little secret for years."
get that? Racism is the 'GOP's dirty little secret." Not
just Trent Lott, the entire party. Every member. This is exactly
the sort of impression that Republicans should 1) be incredibly
sensitive to avoid making at all times and 2) vehemently denounce
any instance where it occurs. This is why Trent Lott's comments
are so harmful to the party and why he shouldn't be allowed to
continue as the national face of the GOP.
WAITING: I love this
story. House Democrats have been huddled inside the Capitol
trying to come up with some sort of coherent economic plan. Um,
guys, the election was last month. Better late than never, I guess.
taken time out to eat and bash the Bush administration's "failed
policies", but the whole thing has a "give me a minute
while I try and figure out what I think" feel to it. It's
a bit different than Bush's economic forum last year which was
more of "I already know what I believe but I need to resell
it to America in a public way" type event. There is a certain
hokiness to all of it. -
T. Bevan 6:58 am
December 9, 2002
ďI want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for
president, we voted for him. Weíre proud of it. And if the rest
of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn'tít have had all
these problems over these years, either.Ē -
Trent Lott at Senator Thurmond's 100th birthday party on Friday.
heard of Trent Lott's comments until it came up on Meet
the Press yesterday, here is the exchange.
NOVAK: This was a birthday party, 100th birthday party,
for Strom Thurmond. Trent Lott got out there and he winged it.
Thatís one of the dangers of not having a text. He thought it
was a social occasion. Heís thinking what comes to his mind.
Heís saying-if you listen to the whole speech, heís making extravagant
statements about Strom Thurmond, as he should on his 100th birthday.
And he goes over the line. Now, the idea that Trent Lott thinks
we should have a segregated America, that we should have had
Strom Thurmond and Fielding Wright-Remember Fielding Wright,
Tim?óhis vice presidential candidate, as the people running
America in 1949... .is-itís nonsense. And I think that the idea
that Jesse Jackson wants him to resign is ludicrous. I think
it was a mistake. I donít think he was at all serious, and I
donít even think we should dwell on it. The idea that race is
important, I think, is the biggest problem for the Democrats
as it is for the Republicans. And in South Carolina, where they
had a disaster on November 5th, they were relying on the black
vote and there just arenít enough blacks to do it.
KLEIN: Well, I donít know. Maybe we should dwell on it a
little bit, especially in an atmosphere where any Democrat is
immediately saddled-where Max Cleland was saddled with Osama
bin Laden in TV ads in Georgia. I think that if a Democrat had
made an analogous statement, like if Henry Wallace had been
elected in 1948, we would have had a much easier road with the
Soviet Union because we would have just given them everything
and there wouldnít have been a Cold War. You would have been
jumping up and down. And I think that this kind of statement
in this country at this time is outrageous, and it should be
NOVAK: I think the problem, Joe, is that he didnít come
out with a statement saying, ďBoy, oh, boy, I thought this over
and we should have had a Thurmond administration.Ē Heís at a
damn birthday party. I mean, this is the kind of thing that
makes people infuriated with the media, is they pick up something
thatís said at a birthday party and turn it into a case of whether
he should be impeached.
KLEIN: Yeah, itís the mediaís fault.
NOVAK: Yeah, right. I think it is that weíre talking about
BRODER: Why does the thought cross his mind that he...
NOVAK: David, heís kidding around. He is-I donít know if
you watched that speech. They were saying that this was the
greatest living American, which Strom Thurmond certainly is
not. Itís his birthday. Heís saying all these things. Boy, if
he had been elected, weíd have been better off. Why donít we
Broder and Klien's attempt to suggest that there is something
nefarious here is a complete reach. Novak's characterization of
Lott's thinking is correct, he's at a birthday party making ridiculously
embellished comments about Senator Thurmond and he says something
off the cuff that he thinks is funny, but it is actually colossally
stupid and offensive. Klien's pathetic analogy to a Democrat and
Cleland is a complete joke. Senator Bob Byrd threw the N word
around on national television and the only news channel that covered
it to the best of my knowledge was FOX. So the Republican-Democrat
double standard stuff is ridiculous.
me though, I want to know how can someone who was born in Mississippi
in 1941, grows up in Mississippi in the '40s and '50's, attends
the University of Mississippi in the early 1960's and then becomes
a professional politician from Mississippi in the '70's be so
clueless when it comes to the issue of race? Trent Lott knows
damn well that Thurmond's Dixiecrat campaign in 1948 was about
one thing, and that was maintaining white superiority in the South.
So given Trent Lott's personal history and the fact he has been
a national leader now for years, it should be absolutely
impossible for him to make the ridiculous comment he made. Yet
for some reason it isn't.
Lott needs to make a massive public apology ASAP or he needs to
step down as Senate Majority leader. And even with an apology,
the Republicans in the Senate should think long and hard whether
this man is the best person for the job. JM