Wednesday, 11 December 2002

And now, he just looks stupid (updated)

(Via Greg Wythe, who also pays me a kind compliment:) Joshua Micah Marshall has some choice excerpts from Larry King's interview with Trent Lott this evening; rather than blockquote the whole thing, just go read it.

You know, I can't really think of what Dewey stood for in 1948 either. But I do actually know his name. Dear Lord. Forget throwing him out of the GOP leadership — can we rescind his bachelor's degree?

Daniel Drezner weighs in with some advice for Karl Rove; he figures W has 24 hours to either get out in front or start taking collateral damage. And, to be fair to Lott, Marshall does cherry-pick his excerpts a bit. “VodkaPundit” Stephen Green writes:

What I want to know is, where is the rest of the Republican Senate Majority on Lott? I’m not too worried yet about the President not speaking to this issue – it's still largely a Senate matter, and politically unwise for Bush to step in (yet). But where is the Republicans' Harold Ford, willing to stand up to idiocy and challenge its leadership role? Where is the modern Barry Goldwater to tell Lott quietly that it’s time to step down? Lott isn't just hanging his own self out to dry, he could take fellow Republicans with him in two years.

Of course, the Democrats' Harold Ford will probably spend the next two years as a Capitol elevator attendant for his impudence in challenging the party elite. Having principles can bite you in the ass sometimes...

Grenada +10 = Venezuela?

(Finally, something other than Trent Lott!)

Glenn Reynolds passes on an interesting tidbit on Hugo Chávez possibly importing Cuban troops to support his regime. Also see El Sur for coverage of the evolving situation in Venezuela.

On the one hand, Chávez was popularly elected, and that ought to count for something before we play Teddy Roosevelt. On the other, so was old Slobodan Milosevic.

Lott on Hannity: The reviews are rolling in

If I'd known Trent was going to be on Hannity today, I'd have run out to my car to listen on XM (sorry, cheap plug). But, word is, I didn't miss much; quoth Michele of A Small Victory:

One of the things I scribbled as Lott talked was "some of my best friends are black," which a whole paragraph worth of Trott's words amounted to. I was really pissed when I got home, checked my blogroll, and saw that Stephen had come out of a short retirement and said the exact same thing.

Arthur Silber writes:

Moreover -- and this is the most important element, to me -- it appears that Lott thinks that the only way he can redeem himself is by accepting virtually all of the Democrats' positions: increased spending for education, increased spending for "economic opportunity," which means God only knows how much more federal money for innumerable programs (which we know don't work in the first place), etc. In other words, the only way the Republicans can get this incident behind them, while leaving Lott in place, is to accede to most, if not all, of the Democrats' proposals. Only in that way will the Republicans be able to show their "good will."

Mike Alissi of Hit & Run:

After a strong apology, he said his statement praising Strom Thurmond's presidential candidacy was "an error of the head not the heart" — and he credited Jesse Jackson for having once used that phrase.

Hmm. It doesn't rhyme, though. Besides, what in the hiz-ell does that phrase actually mean in this context? “My heart is with the Dixiecrats but I shouldn't have been dumb enough to say it out loud”? At this rate, Lott will be apologizing for apologies. reports the story with quotes from both sides of the aisle. Perhaps more amusingly, Tom Daschle seems to be trying to out-clarify Lott, with his third statement in three days. More of my Lott thoughts at

Bennie Thompson on Lott

The Professor finds Bennie Thompson taking leave of his senses.

Thompson is basically a joke of a politician, and not even close to a worthy successor to Mike Espy (which is saying something). If he didn't have a majority-minority district, he'd be unelectable; he only won 55–45 in his last election, in a district that is about 65% black.

This will probably be my last on Lott for today; I have a nasty server problem to debug here at work.

I lied; Greg Wythe notes Mississippi's tepid response to the Lott situation. And Arthur Silber thinks Thompson wasn't so much being dense as reading Trent Lott's mind; if that's not an indictment of Lott's intellect, I don't know what is. (Latter link via Daniel Drezner.)

Mississippians, persecution complexes, and Trent Lott

Today was haircut day for me; I trekked down to Parks Barber Shop, just off the Oxford Square, for my bimonthly trim. Business wasn't all that brisk, but there was already someone in the chair (and Larry was the only one working this morning), so I took a seat and started reading my copy of this week's Economist. Not unsurprisingly, Larry and his patron started talking about the Lott situation; Larry stuck up for good old Trent, saying that “he hadn't said anything racist” and that he was probably right, that we would have been better off had Thurmond won, while the patron pointed out that even if Trent had gotten a bit carried away at the celebration (and nothing more), he'd still made Mississippi look bad.

Far be it from me to extrapolate too much from idle conversation in a barber shop. But there are certainly lots of people down here who'd agree with Larry's sentiment; that Trent Lott didn't say anything “racist”. And, on the surface, if you'd beamed down from Neptune, without any knowledge of what Strom Thurmond stood for in 1948, I suppose that's plausible, even if a bit disingenuous. But unless you're ignorant of the context, it's hard to read Lott's comments as anything but an endorsement of White Rule Forever.

But there is a larger issue here, one that will remain long after the Lottroversy is over: a lot of white Mississippians view the world through a prism of persecution, and believe they'll never get a fair shake from the Yankee victors, no matter what they do. “We got rid of segregation, let blacks vote, abolished the Sovereignty Commission,” they say, “but still those outsiders are on us about the flag, Confederate statues, and what we call our football teams. Appease 'em on that, and who knows what will be next.” In short, it's us against them. And Trent Lott was immersed in that culture from day one of his life, which is why he won't quit (I can imagine him now: “You'll have to pry the Senate calendar out of my cold, dead fingers.”); if he did, it'd be yet another surrender to the Yankees and their damned political correctness. Bottom line: if the Republicans want to get rid of Trent, they're gonna have to do it the ugly way.

That isn't to say there isn't some kernel of truth buried in that view of persecution; my experience with a lot of Northerners suggests that Mississippi is still viewed as nothing short of Deliverance writ large with a healthy dollop of Sling Blade on the side, where uppity blacks are still lynched on a daily basis in the Oxford Square and an interracial couple should expect to be stoned to death by mobs of anti-miscegenationists. The reality of modern Mississippi is that whites and blacks get along pretty well, for the most part, whether promoting economic development in the Delta or getting the business of the state done in Jackson. In some ways, that makes Lott's comments hurt worse, because most Mississippians, if they sat down and actually thought about it, would agree that our state is much better off now than it was during the days of Jim Crow.

Maybe if Trent Lott was from Ohio or Nebraska, instead of Mississippi, he might have gotten an easier ride, absent those stereotypes. Not that he would have deserved one.

Incidentally, this is probably the same reason Bill Clinton refused to quit during l'affaire Lewinsky; the white Southerner persecution complex isn't exclusive to Mississippians.

More Lott items on the front page.

LottWatch Day 5 (updated)

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports on the latest developments, including quotes from the state NAACP; their cartoonist sums up the situation fairly nicely. The paper's editorial makes no attempt to defend Lott, but doesn't really call on him to do anything either. Columnist Sid Salter, meanwhile, thinks it's just Democrats that have it out for Lott; obviously, he doesn't get out on the Blogosphere much.

Meanwhile, the Memphis Commercial Appeal carries this James Brosnan piece that notes liberal and conservative outrage at Lott's remarks; it includes this quote from Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.:

It would be easy to dismiss this if this was the first occasion for the senator to be associated with sort of anti-American rhetoric or organizations, but unfortunately it's part of a pattern.

And the Professor finds that Lott said pretty much the same thing 22 years ago at a Reagan campaign rally.

Oliver Willis gives us a devestating preview of Campaign 2004. It's a shame running such an ad would be illegal under McCain-Feingold. Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz catches up the dead tree media consumers on what the Blogosphere is up to.