We haven’t yet said anything about the Trent Lott affair that is roiling the blogosphere. At the 100th birthday celebration for Strom Thurmond, Lott, while paying tribute to Thurmond’s long career, referred to his 1948 Dixiecrat Presidential run, and said: “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.” This event was broadcast over CSpan, but I didn’t see it, nor have I been able to find a transcript of Lott’s complete remarks. I keep hoping to see a context that would somehow make sense out of Lott’s comment. Lott himself hasn’t been helpful; his office merely released this statement: “Senator Lott’s remarks were intended to pay tribute to a remarkable man who led a remarkable life. To read anything more into these comments is wrong.”
While I would have been happy to hear Lott explain what “problems” he was referring to, the reality is that, given the history of the Dixiecrat movement, no explanation could save Lott’s comment from being incomprehensibly stupid. It is hard to avoid the image of Lott as a Dr. Strangelove who has to be restrained from blurting out what he really thinks. Lott has not been an especially effective Senate leader, and I wouldn’t be sorry to see him go. This incident confirms that he doesn’t have the good sense necessary to be Majority Leader. The biggest downside to replacing him, I think, is that it will give credence to the liberal theory that Republicans are closet racists. So far, Lott’s blunder hasn’t drawn as much fire as one might have expected. But this is sure to change, and I am afraid Lott and the Republican Party will bleed slowly until he is replaced.
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