Friday, 13 December 2002

Now fight over the credit

I won't even dignify this debate with links... bottom line, in my opinion, all the bloggers involved deserve credit for keeping this one alive when every single "mainstream" media outlet in America except the Washington Post was ignoring it and nobody on the Sunday shows thought it was a big deal (and the WaPo would have buried the story too if it hadn't gotten mainstreamed after the weekend). Special kudos to Josh Marshall for his exemplary research. And, like it or not, the Professor did make sure it crossed over outside the liberal wing of the Blogosphere. (For what it's worth, Virginia Postrel is the one who got me most interested in the issue, but that's neither here nor there.) Beyond that, feel free to childishly bicker...

Oh, it just gets better and better (updated)

It's a bad sign when your own spin turns out to be bogus:

There are conflicting versions of Lott's role [in the Meredith crisis], especially during events in late September 1962, when white rioting resulted in two deaths, many injuries and 150 arrests.

A 1997 Charlotte Observer article said: "On Sunday night, Meredith came to campus. A mob, including many nonstudents, bombarded marshals with bricks and bottles. Student leaders -- including Trent Lott, now U.S. Senate majority leader -- tried to discourage violence, but a riot broke out."

According to a 1997 Time magazine account of events that day, "a small band of white students publicly called for peaceful integration of the campus, but Lott was not among them. Nor was he among the rioters. He concentrated on keeping his frat brothers away from the violence, and he succeeded."


Jan Humber Robertson, who was editor of the student newspaper in 1962 and now teaches journalism at the University of Mississippi, said: "As far as I know, [Lott] was not one of the student leaders who tried to prevent any violence or who spoke out in favor of integration."

The bigger question I have: why is Marty Wiseman at Mississippi State carrying Trent's water? He's been quoted in multiple pieces this week, saying virtually the same thing after every revelation:

Marty Wiseman, director of Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute, said that criticism goes too far. "He waxes nostalgic from time to time without meaning anything racial," Wiseman said of Lott. "The fact that he was trying to make a 100-year-old man feel good on his birthday is probably all he meant to do. If you're looking for a deeper meaning, I would say that's it."

Why do I get the odd feeling Edsall's going to find some nice large federal block grants to Stennis in the next few days?

National Review and The Economist heap more dirt on Lott's political grave.

Incidentally, I vehemently disagree with Paul Krugman's take, even if it's, um, shall we say “heavily informed” by some of my posts. I certainly don't think the president is pulling a Lott here; rather, Bush can't publically push Lott out the airlock without giving the Senate GOP a chance to do it themselves first.

CNN is reporting that Lott will give a press conference in his hometown of Pascagoula, Miss., at 5:30 pm Eastern/4:30 pm Central. (I'm probably not going to be online to report on it, but I'm sure you'll see it on CNN.)

Eric Stringfellow's column in today's Clarion-Ledger is a must read.

Jonathan Karl reports on CNN that Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer refused to answer reporters' questions about whether or not Bush accepted Lott's apology as genuine. The man is toast.

Condemned to repeat it (blah, blah) (updated)

Time's Karen Tumulty reports that Our Man Trent “helped lead a successful battle to prevent his college fraternity from admitting blacks to any of its chapters”. Quoth Tumulty on the early 1960s incident:

Sigma Nu's executive secretary Richard Fletcher, a legendary figure in the fraternity, pleaded with the Sigma Nus to find some common ground between those who wanted to integrate and those who didn't, [former CNN president Tom] Johnson says. But the southerners were unbending about permitting no exceptions to the all-white policy. With their chapters threatening a walkout, the fraternity voted overwhelmingly to remain all-white.

(Emphasis mine.) Now, let's flash back to 1948. From Houghton-Mifflin's “Reader's Companion to American History”:

In 1948, the Democratic National Convention was splintered by debate over controversial new civil rights planks that had been proposed for addition to the party platform. Adoption of the planks, urged by a group led by Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, was resisted by delegates from southern states. In the middle, trying to hold together the New Deal coalition he had inherited from Franklin D. Roosevelt, was President Harry S. Truman. As a compromise, he was prepared to settle for the adoption of only those planks that had been in the 1944 platform. But Truman's own civil rights initiatives, including the formation of the Committee on Civil Rights and the Fair Employment Practices Commission, had advanced the civil rights debate to a new level, and he could not turn the clock back. The planks were adopted, prompting thirty-five southern Democrats to walk out. They formed the States' Rights party, which came to be popularly known as the Dixiecrats.

And people say that Trent Lott doesn't remember his history.

Mark Levin writes:

Trent Lott has said his reference to Strom Thurmond's 1948 campaign was not to endorse his segregationist views, but his positions on such issues as the military, limited government, etc. Mr. Thurmond actually did hold, and articulate, positions that were dissimilar to those of Harry Truman on a variety of issues having nothing to do with race, including national defense and limited government. Yet [James Taranto] and others persist in putting words in Mr. Lott's mouth.

Can anyone actually articulate what those “dissimilar” positions were, other than the obvious ones on limited government (i.e. limited enforcement of the 14th Amendment)? The letter-writers to the Clarion-Ledger below seem more to be projecting their own Buchananite fantasies onto the Dixiecrat campaign than working from knowledge of all these other issue stances.

James Taranto is kind enough to find the Dixiecrat platform's planks on economics and national defense; as expected, the Buchananite fantasies are just that — fantasies.

Commercial Appeal: Lott should go; Clarion-Ledger: Maybe not

The Memphis Commercial Appeal is calling for Trent Lott to resign his position as majority leader.

Plenty of other papers nationwide have done so as well, including the Pascagoula Mississippi Press; however, the CA has wide circulation in northern Mississippi, including GOP stronghold DeSoto County.

Meanwhile, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger stops short of calling for Lott's resignation in this morning's edition:

Lott should not resign; he should change. He should understand that racial sensitivity is a daily practice, not just a political strategy or something to counter embarrassing misspoken words.

Unfortunately, Lott has had forty years to change, and he hasn't.

Meanwhile, those readers who don't believe in the Mississippi persecution complex need look no further than the paper's letters section:

Lott was merely complimenting the former leader of the Dixiecrats, state rights political entity, that believed that the best and the most honorable solution to the long-term problems of segregation/integration could be best solved in an aura of natural political and educational evolution under state law as our U.S. Constitution intended.

I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read that whopper, written by a resident of Philadelphia, no less. Here's another one:

And why couldn't Lott have been talking about Thurmond's foreign or economic policy? Why immediately assume he was glorifying Thurmond's racist past?

Thurmond's foreign or economic policy? What foreign or economic policy? Maybe this one. Yeah, I'd be praising that one to the stars too.

At least Ramsey hits the nail on the head. Oh, by the way, Our Man Lott refused to be interviewed by the Clarion-Ledger. It's not like he might actually owe his constituents an explanation or anything...

I'll take “Things that aren't going to happen” for $300, Alex

Memphis Commercial Appeal Washington correspondent James W. Brosnan reports:

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said [of Lott], "I think he has to have a full-blown press conference with an opening description of his absolute outright hostility to discrimination in any form."

If you believe that is going to happen, I have a bridge in Lake Havasu City I'd like to sell you. Meanwhile, how can you tell you're trying to interview a GOP moderate?

Sen.-elect Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who campaigned aggressively for black votes in the November election, was unavailable to comment on Lott for the third day in a row.

Lott's Superbowl moment approaches. “You've just been called on the carpet by the leader of the free world. What are you going to do now?” “I'm going to Dixie World!”

In all seriousness, this is Trent Lott we're talking about. If a bunch of two-bit beat reporters and rag-tag bloggers can dig up this much dirt on the guy, just wait until Woodward gets on the case. If he's still majority leader next Friday, they'll have dug up videotape of him lighting a cross at a Klan rally or affidavits from a few dozen people detailing how often he's used the “n-word” to describe Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas. Does anyone honestly think the man can stand up to another week of hounding, much less two or more years?

JB Armstrong has a good overview of where the situation is; the “the Dems are bigots too” spin isn't flying. Andrew Sullivan keeps the drum beating, with a nice recap of what we know — and mostly already knew — about Our Man Trent:

He fought integration of his college fraternity; he has hobnobbed with white supremacists; he submitted an amicus brief defending Bob Jones University's right to prohibit inter-racial dating; he has twice regretted the fact that Strom Thurmond didn't win the 1948 presidential election on an explicitly segregationist platform; he voted against the Voting Rights Act extension in 1982; in 1983 he voted against the Martin Luther King Jr holiday; last year, he cast the only vote against the confirmation of Judge Roger Gregory, the first black judge ever seated on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In these last three instances, even Strom Thurmond voted the other way. I don't know. What do you think?