Sunday, 15 December 2002

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.

Monday, 16 December 2002

Ed Gordon 1, Trent Lott 0

BET Tonight host Ed Gordon asked most of the tough questions, but I'm not all that sure he got straight answers out of Trent Lott. It seems to me he's still in that hard place: not contrite or sincere enough for the national audience, but still making comments distancing himself from the Council of Conservative Citizens that are going to earn him more rebukes from his erstwhile friends back home. (I'm sure my boss, Robert Khayat, enjoyed getting dragged into the discussion, too.)

Now he's being savaged by Rep. Gregory Meeks from the Congressional Black Caucus.

And by Robert George and Julianne Malveaux. (I'm behind live TV on TiVo.)

Incidentally, Trent only addressed one of the six points that he didn't address last time (repudiating the Council of Conservative Citizens), and he only did that by generally saying he'd review his other associations.

Glenn Reynolds points us to Phil Bowermaster's full list of Trent Lott supporters. Now compare it to Funditry's list of, um, shall we say, “non-fans”. Sucks to be you, Trent!