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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Biloxi Blues

Reaction to Trent Lott's situation from some Mississippi newspapers:

The Sun Herald, Biloxi: Will Trent Lott survive the current crisis in confidence that undermines his position as Senate majority leader? Probably not. But he gave his best college try in Pascagoula on Friday afternoon as he sought to turn back the tide of opposition that has risen to his chin in the week since his remarks at a 100th birthday party for Strom Thurmond.

...There is one thin reed of hope that Sen. Lott's leadership position might be salvaged, and it hinges on the belief that every person should be accorded the possibility of redemption, even forgiveness. It is not likely the politicians - Democrat or Republican - will be willing to accord him that gift, but if they do it is likely they will be rewarded with a surprise outcome.

...In this Christmas season perhaps the senator might review "It's a Wonderful Life" and project himself into the role of George Bailey, who is shown what his hometown would be like without him. It is a horrifying nightmare in a pre-Christmas setting (just like this) and it brings a troubled man back from self-destruction.

... he is fortunate to have a helpful guide on his road from hopelessness, a trainee angel named Clarence.

There are yet to be written chapters to this tale of one man's woes. Is there an angel in Trent Lott's future? Can he survive? Will the president stand by his man?

We shall see.

Well. Don't overlook "A Christmas Carol", and its three ghosts. Although the last one, draped in sheets, may not be precisely the image being sought here. And I think the Kaus-endorsed ending would be "time will tell".

The Mississippi Press: Senator finds hometown support. And critics.

The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson: ... "Any suggestion that the segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong," Bush said.

Getting such a slap from the president of the United States should be enough for Lott to understand reaction to his racially insensitive remark is not just political criticism from opponents. It was hurtful and embarrassing, not only to his Republican colleagues, but to all Mississippians.

But that reaction also is indicative of how sensitive the issue of race is to the GOP. The foolish remarks of one senator from Mississippi, albeit the future majority leader, hurt because they hit squarely on a real vulnerability.

Lott certainly needs some sensitivity training, but the GOP also needs to seriously put matters of race relations, inclusiveness and economic health of minority Americans more to the forefront of its policies.

...There could never be a more fitting time for the Republican Party, with its new national mandate, to take leadership in a creating a new dialogue on race in America, something it has shied away from in the past.

Even Lott might be in a better frame of mind to listen.

Other Mississippi newspapers are here, but they seem to be locals with national news from the wire services.

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