. . . and I ain't in it .
I think I'm missing something again. From an
oft-(Blogdex)-linked Washington Post article:
Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi has provoked criticism by saying the United States would have been better off if then-segregationist candidate Strom Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948.
Speaking Thursday at a 100th birthday party and retirement celebration for Sen. Thurmond (R-S.C.) in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Lott 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."
Ok. Conservative Republican reveals himself as racist asshole. And now, more on that breaking Wynona Ryder sentencing hearing.
But the right-leaning talking keyboards are taking serious umbrage. Folks like Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit:
But to say, as Lott did, that the country would be better off if Thurmond had won in 1948 is, well, it's proof that Lott shouldn't be Majority Leader for the Republicans, to begin with. And that's just to begin with. It's a sentiment as evil and loony as wishing that Gus Hall had been elected.
Funny. I'd think revealing himself as a racist asshole would make him more qualified to be Majority leader for the Republicans.
Maybe they prefer to keep this sort of thing hidden. I mean, asking him to step down certainly isn't going to change his mind -- or anyone else's -- about the lesser races.
If you're looking for outrage, there's a comment at ABC's The Note:
Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights told ABCNEWS' Douglass: "This was an offensive and blatant attempt to rewrite the history of the last 50 years"
"Thurmond ran for president as a Dixiecrat, a segregationist. He gave the longest filibuster in history to try to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act. In his statement today, Lott also embraced those dubious achievements." ..'Lott betrayed his role as the Majority Leader of all Americans."
And Oliver Willis weighs in, with an entry creatively titled, "Racist Trent Lott Must Go."
It is quite plain and simple that Trent Lott's unabashed support of the racist policies of
Jesse Helms Strom Thurmond and his Dixiecrat movement has no place in the Congress of the United States. The Republican party needs to take a good look at themselves and realize that someone who portends these sort of policies cannot and should not represent the people of Mississippi or America.
The guy was elected, you know.
The people voting for him must have known how he felt about this.
Is the problem that he (apparently) believes these things, or that he came out and (apparently) said what he did?
Qualifiers tossed in, because:
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.
I don't know. Maybe tossing him out is meant to have symbolic value of some sort. It's not going to convince me of anything, and most likely it'll just mean the rest of the racist assholes are even more careful about coding their statements to conceal their biases. I'd rather they were more open about them at this point, to be honest.
Which reminds me, been meaning to link this for a while. Not sure I agree with all the assertions in the (fairly lengthy) article, "Why We Should All Give Up on the Democrats: A Polemical Essay":
The DLC, if you don't make a habit of following such things, is the Democratic Leadership Council, a creature hatched in the mid-1980s and promoted mainly by conservative Southern and Western Democrats--people like Bruce Babbitt, Charles Robb, Al Gore, Sam Nunn, and the winsome young governor from Arkansas. To anyone paying attention, it was immediately clear what they were up to. In 1986 Thomas Ferguson and Joel Rogers published a little-noted book called Right Turn: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics that traced the rise of the business Democrats who would eventually constitute the heart of party leadership. It began with the strategic ministrations of men like Nathan Landow, a Maryland real estate developer who emerged as a force in the wake of the 1984 Mondale campaign.
The coterie of big Democratic fundraisers eventually coalesced behind the banner of the DLC, whose control of the party was ratified by the successes of Bill Clinton. DLC chieftains defined the game of politics entirely in terms of money and set out to raise as much as possible, amending the party platform as necessary and taking care to distance themselves from all their old constituencies--most conspicuously, black people, but more broadly the whole American working class. Their few gestures toward the white working class lay mainly in the realm of race-baiting (it was Al Gore who first dug up Willie Horton to use against Michael Dukakis, in the 1988 New York primary) and no-new-tax pledges.
The rise of the pro-business Democrats was less a coup than a summation of moves the party had been making since the unruly events of 1968 and 1972, a period marked by a "crisis of democracy" in the infamous phrase of Samuel P. Huntington, meaning there was too damn much of the stuff and it was proving unwieldy. After those tumultuous years the party promoted a number of changes designed to ensure that no upstart could sway the party from the will of its national machine. Thus we got super-delegates at the national convention, a battalion of party regulars who could be counted on to back the right horse in the event of a close race, and electoral tricks like Super Tuesday, a carefully juggled slate of early primaries that skewed heavily toward conservative southern states--both of them steps designed to prevent any left-liberal insurgent from building a prohibitive lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. This is why the people who protested that Jesse Jackson had no legitimate shot in 1988 were ultimately right.
With the country's spurious right turn as their warrant, the business Democrats spent most of the 1980s and all of the 1990s crafting themselves into the party of tough love--young, freshly galvanized "centrists" who would cut away the cumbersome old entanglements and put fiscal responsibility at the top of the Democratic agenda. Think JFK and his New Frontiersmen, except that where Kennedy's boys were hot to fight the Cold War abroad, Clinton's people were out to facilitate one at home.
What they practiced wasn't centrism at all by any recognizable standard. It always leaned carefully but emphatically to the right. Bill Clinton set the tone for his first administration by provoking a public fight with a relatively obscure female rapper in order to distance himself and the party from the great mass of black America, a gesture he spent the next eight years underscoring with all the right kinds of coded talk about poverty, pathology, and responsibility. (This was a winning proposition on more than one level: A lot of upwardly mobile blacks loved him for it.)
I failed to understand the uproar over Sister Souljah's comments at the time, either. Again, it seemed more symbolic than substantive. Clearly, I wasn't the target audience, then or now.
There's a discussion on MetaFilter about Lott's statements. Nothing terribly interesting, other than an attempted defense from something calling itself MidasMulligan. I expect Plastic has something as well (Update: yep), but really haven't really visited there or MePhiMe for a while.
That whole target audience thing again.
Update: Today's weird coincidence, Giles mentioning Sister Souljah over at wimmenandminorities, although the reference originates with Thomas Friedman in the NYTimes.
Or there are no coincidences. I'm leaning towards that lately.