December 10, 2002
Lott update

So Trent Lott has offered an apology of sorts for his recent racist remarks:

"A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past," Lott, R-Miss., said in a statement. "Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement.

Via Josh Marshall. Apparently, Trent Lott never learned the lesson that Fritz Schranck did about what an apology should be.

Meanwhile, Charles Dodgson wonders if Randy Andy Sullivan will give the NYT its due now that they have finally addressed the issue. Well, here's your answer. It's a good thing Andy exists, or we'd have to retire the concept of a "left-handed compliment".

Finally, regarding Lott and the Democrats' racial anachronism Robert Byrd, I agree with Virginia Postrel:

It's important to note the difference between Lott's comments and the typical insensitive politico's gaffe. Lott didn't use an epithet, however offensive. He made a statement about policy. Epithets indicate bad character; they may or may not indicate political goals. Lott's comments alluded to a philosophy of government, something usually missing from his public pronouncements. And, David Frum's generous sentiments to the contrary, he has given us no reason to think he didn't mean it.


The other important difference between Lott and, say, that repulsive old Klansman Robert Byrd is that Lott holds a position in his party congressional leadership—the top position. Nobody, as far as I know, is calling for Lott to resign from the Senate. If the people of Mississippi want him, they can keep him. But Republicans from the rest of the country don't have to retain him as their leader, and if they choose to do so they're sending a disconcerting message about what they stand for.

Exactly. I'm not calling any Republican besides Lott a racist (or any conservative, for that matter). I recognize that each party has members in it who range from useful idiots to crazy-aunt-in-the-attic types. Many non-political conservatives have done the right thing in denouncing Lott and in calling for him to step down from his leadership position. Will the Republican Party do the same?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 10, 2002 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

I disagree with regards to Byrd. His continued use of a racial slur he has to know he shouldn't be using invariably speaks to the kind of policies that man would produce. Lott's words, though stupid, were certainly not more offensive. Condemn Lott, but don't downplay Byrd... or Jackson... or Sharpton...

And when Postrel says "[t]he other important difference between Lott and, say, that repulsive old Klansman Robert Byrd is that Lott holds a position in his party congressional leadership," I have to laugh. Byrd is head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, arguably the most powerful committee in the Senate. Don't downplay his power, either.

I've been hoping that Lott would be replaced for some time, so I'm hoping this will be a catalyst for that. He's stupid and ineffectual, and his recent statements only make that idiocy all the more obvious. But if no condemnations from the entire GOP are forthcoming, just remember the Democratic response to Robert Byrd. Allow for that much context.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on December 10, 2002 8:04 PM

I resent your hemispherist reference to a "left-handed compliment". You should either apologize promptly or resign from your blog.

As for Byrd, he is certainly entitled to hold his seat as long as people in West Virginia keep re-electing him. The truth is, he's quite a lot like Thurmond: aside from his age and the fact that he's one of the last survivors of a properly bygone era, the truth is that for decades now his real emphasis in Congress has been pushing through the maximum possible amount of government spending in his home state, with minimal regard to the utility of the programs being financed.

Posted by: Alex on December 11, 2002 5:15 PM