Sunday, 15 December 2002


Nickles calls for new leadership vote. Notable quote:

Senior White House officials say Bush will not defend Lott from a challenge.

Meanwhile, the Clarion-Ledger provides empirical evidence of the Mississippi Persecution Complex.

The Professor draws some interesting parallels between Lott and Michael Bellesiles, the ex-Emory historian who apparently falsified data when writing Arming America.

LottWatch Day 9

A few articles you should read, in lieu of me thinking at 3 a.m.:

Joe Atkins, a University of Mississippi journalism professor, writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Lott's “complex” history.

David M. Halbfinger in the New York Times chronicles Lott's history as a segregationist.

The Washington Post on race and Republicans in the South and reaction from Pascagoula to Lott's remarks. A particular quote of interest, from the latter article:

A few whites interviewed here acknowledged that racism is still rampant — though more subtle — in the Gulf Coast region and elsewhere in Mississippi. But the whites who said so had moved here from elsewhere.

My take on where this is going: W is giving Our Man Trent through the BET appearance on Monday. If, as seems likely, BET is as thorough a disaster as his Friday speech, W will call Bill Frist and tell him to take Lott off life support; if not, Lott probably stays until he can “step down to pursue other interests”: most likely, a 2003 run for Mississippi governor, which he'd win easily due to the martyr factor.

On a more humorous note: Dan Polsby (quoted by Eugene Volokh) suggests that Federalist 10 was written with Trent Lott in mind. I knew there was a reason I liked Madison...

Hopefully I'll have time to write my thoughts on how Britain should reform/replace the House of Lords later today.

Mea Sorta Culpa

As I'm sure you know by now, Trent Lott made yet another attempt at an apology on Friday. Glenn Reynolds' reaction — “Pathetic” — pretty much mirrors mine; the word I used when I turned to my mother while we were watching it on CNN, partway through the Q&A, was “trainwreck”. Or as Bill Schneider put it, “he just doesn't get it”. Karl Rove probably shot out a few TVs Elvis-style in disgust.

Maybe the apology was adequate for the home folks (who basically didn't think he did anything wrong in the first place) and the old grandees of the Senate (who've probably said worse in the privacy of their offices, if not on C-SPAN). I probably wouldn't have focused so much on the pork I'd brought to Mississippi or enumerating all six of my black friends if I were in his shoes, but maybe that's just me.

Let's review what he didn't do:

  • He failed to apologize for:

    • His past express advocacy of segregation.

    • Saying Strom Thurmond should have been elected president in 1948.

    • Supporting Bob Jones University's racist policies.

    • Embarrassing the state of Mississippi and its citizens.

  • He failed to distance himself at all from the Council of Conservative Citizens and other racist groups in the state.

  • He continues to allege that bringing Nissan to the state will primarily benefit African Americans. While the town of Canton, the home of the Nissan plant Lott helped attract to the state, is predominantly black, the county it is located in is 60.3% white, and workers will be drawn from a multi-county area with similar demographics. And, as I noted in an email to Virginia Postrel, assembling the land needed (and unneeded but nice to sell later for a mark-up) for the plant was done by seizing the land of black landowners through eminent domain — hardly something Lott should be proud of.

While Apology 4.0 may have been sufficient to keep his job for now (barring additional disclosures — as I noted earlier, the man is a walking PR problem), it simply fails to measure up by any reasonable standard. Ditch the guy. Now. Before he sells out the GOP to save his skin.

At least Lott's friends at the Council of Conservative Citizens are sticking up for him.

I disagree with Philippe DeCroy somewhat; part of the point about Lott is that he is a racist, or at the very least appeals directly and explicitly to racists. The Republicans' fundamental problem with Lott is that he's not very good at covering his tracks. Mississippi's fundamental problem is that nobody in the white establishment seems to care.

Happy Birthday To Me

If I were my cousin, I'd be singing myself happy birthday. That's something she really enjoys doing, pretty much any day of the year.

(Technically, my birthday was yesterday... hence the lack of blogging.)