Just One Minute
Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Snow, Ice Grip Nation's Capitol

Trent Lott's brain freezes. Regrettably, his lips kept moving long enough for this toad to hop out, at a birthday tribute to Strom Thurmond:

"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 of followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

The Note had this yesterday, the WaPo (and almost no one else) has it today.

Now, The Note says "Maybe Lott was being jocular." Ah, yes, Mississippi's answer to Garrison Keilor, warming our hearts with tales of the segregated Southern society of long ago. But the WaPo eliminates even the "Kidding!" defense:

Lott's comments came in the middle of Thursday's celebration for Thurmond, Congress's oldest and longest-serving member. Lott followed at the lectern former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan). Initially Lott made jokes about Dole and then became serious when discussing how Mississippi voted in 1948.

The gathering, which included many Thurmond family members and past and present staffers, applauded Lott when he said "we're proud" of the 1948 vote. But when he said "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" if Thurmond had won, there was an audible gasp and general silence.

Perhaps Lott's office had an explanation?

Lott's office played down the significance of the senator's remarks. Spokesman Ron Bonjean issued a two-sentence 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."

Bonjean declined to explain what Lott meant when he said the country would not have had "all these problems" if the rest of the nation had followed Mississippi's lead and elected Thurmond in 1948.

Well, I don't know if I have ever said a good word about Trent Lott. I once noted that he has very impressive hair, but I recall a note of sarcasm in the comment. Still, for a professional polititician, this is incredibly stupid. If T Lott were a sports broadcaster, and I am thinking of Jimmy the Greek as I say this, he would be unemployed.

Now, I seriously doubt that Lott believes that we would be a better country if Thurmond had defeated Truman. Well, I think I seriously believe that. Don't ask me for evidence. If he does believe this, he is, at a minimum, hopelessly delusional. If he was just having fun, he is hopelessly stupid and insensitive. I have been waiting for the day when the Republican Party would deal with some of their lesser lights. Hey, where's Pat Buchanan now? It can be done. Now, I don't suppose we can stop the people of Mississippi from electing him, but he is a miserable choice for Majority Leader, and ought to slink away.

OK, but enough of Trent. Jesse at Pandagon has some suggestions for media coverage.

My question is, where is our guilty white Southern boy, Mr. Augusta National himself, Howell Raines? Or, more accurately, where is the NY Times? I remember the Quayle era, when the Vice President's every mis-cue was a national laughingstock. But, on the subject of media bias, I am astonished that Lott's comment has received this little attention. Where is the DNC spin machine? Where is the liberal media? C'mon, ring the bell, it's feeding time!

Well, at this writing, the Times is silent. Using Google-News, I see the San Fran Chronicle reprints the WaPo story; Slate has something; and Salon has a piece.

I have not scoured the blogosphere - I have seen some lefties, and the Insta-man drops a daisy-cutter on Trent, with links. But as to Big Media, Silence of the Lambs.

UPDATE - This Just In: Hmm. The Friday front page story from the WaPo, covering the event at which Trent Lott spoke, completely misses the significance of Lott's comment, and describes Lott getting laughs with other remarks. We also get a tepid defense of Thurmond, here:

But Thurmond later became a supporter of civil rights, whether a signal of personal change or political pragmatism. By the 1980s, he favored a federal holiday to mark Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He was the first senator from the South to hire a black staff member.

The follow up denouncing Lott was on page 6 of the Saturday edition, so not even the WaPo is pushing this hard. No Sunday follow up, if I can rely on Google-News. And the Times remains silent. But perhaps we should not fault the Times: Democrats.org, the site Google takes me to when I ask for Democratic National Committee, is also silent on this.

This story may require a Democratic biggie making a statement to get going.

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