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Saturday, December 14, 2002
Lott Looks Back
I have yet to comment on this Lott business. I know that you all have been waiting with bated breath. "What, oh what, will Angie think?" you whisper. "Only then will we have the definitive word on the topic!"
Well, I shall taunt you no more. But I want to see if I've got it straight first.
Trent Lott, Senate majority leader, was at a birthday party for centenarian Senator Strom Thurmond. Thurmond ran for President in 1948, against Truman, as part of a Democratic Party wing who thought that the eradication of segregation, poll taxes, and lynching was going to destroy the South's precious way of life. The exact nature of Dixiecrat platform was not aired at the birthday party.
Lott, while praising Thurmond, said that if he (Thurmond) had been elected President in 1948, "we wouldn't have had all these problems all these years."
Now, this is a very vague thing to say; it can mean almost anything. A lot of people have taken it to mean that in Lott's heart of hearts, he wishes that we had the good old days of Jim Crow and "Strange Fruit" back again, when he could sit on the veranda at dusk, sipping mint juleps while the happy songs of the laboring darkies wafted on the evening breeze. Or at the very least he wouldn't have to worry about his daughter marrying a black man.
Since I don't know Lott, I don't know what is in his heart. But I figure what is in his head is what is in the heads of most politicians in the position of eulogizing some fossil: mush. His job is to get up there and say Nice Things about the old dinosaur, and so he picked a random nice thing that turned out to be kinda stupid.
In fact, originally I was sure that "all these problems" had to refer to the previous administration. Lord knows, in the eyes of many, you can use little black children for kindling and slap burkas on all the women and still be a saint if you are not Bill Clinton. (And that's a topic for another rant.)
But, it turns out that Lott said that once before, about Thurmond, at a Reagan fundraiser in 1980. Maybe it's a stock phrase of his, good for any failed Republican Presidential candidate. Did he say it for Ford? For Dole?
I don't know. I don't know what, if anything, was going through Lott's mind.
But there's one thing I really cannot comprehend.
WHY ARE PEOPLE GETTING THEIR PANTIES IN A BUNCH OVER SOME AMBIGUOUS PRAISE HEAPED UPON THE OLD SERPENT, RATHER THAN AT THE PRESENCE, IN THE SENATE, OF THE SERPENT HIMSELF?? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???
Lott babbles something which may or may not indicate that he wishes Thurmond had won the '48 election. Why is this more upsetting than the fact that the man who headed that horrible platform is still sitting in the Senate?? Oh, I forgot, he reformed. That's right, he saw the error of his wicked ways and renounced his former beliefs when he saw that was no longer politically expedient to cling to them.
Meanwhile, in keeping with his vague crime, Lott has babbled some vague apologies which have gotten a cold reception. What do you have to do to get an apology accepted? Does the worth of your apology scale directly with the magnitude of the crime? Do you have to do something really horrific to get people to forgive you? Sin boldly, Senator!
I have no brief for Lott. I don't care if he stays or goes. But the glee with which Lott is being thrown to the wolves suggests a certain eagerness for sacrifice. If we can offer up Lott, perhaps we can forget that far more objectionable men were retained and "rehabilitated".
And not all of them are Republicans.