Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2002/ 8 Teves, 5763
Sending the Senate
When Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the Democrats, the
editorial-page columnists of The Washington Post and the
New York Times - all the wonderful folks with the interests
of the Grand Old Party closest to their hearts - tell the
Republicans it's time to sack their leaders, George W. Bush
Higher. We think that the Dow will Maybe he can't help it if he's a
conservative, but George W.
wants everybody to know the
Republicans aren't as bad as they
think they are.
"Any suggestion that the
segregated past was acceptable or
positive is offensive and it is
wrong," the president told an
audience yesterday in Philadelphia.
"Recent comments by Senator
Lott do not reflect the spirit of our
country. He has apologized, and
rightly so. Every day our nation
was segregated was a day that
America was unfaithful to our founding ideals."
So far, we've had two explanations and an apology from
Mr. Lott, three denunciations by the president, and several
revisions of revised statements from Democratic leaders. Any
warm and fuzzy feelings George W. expects to get from the
Democratic constituency, however, will be diluted because
the president waited for nearly a week to point with fervor
and view with alarm. What he did accomplish was to give
legs to a dying story, and pour a little blood in the water.
Some of the usual suspects who organized the
high-minded inspection team - retired quarterbacks,
frightened congressmen, McCainiac columnists and such -
are making the ritual invocations of Lincoln, suggesting that
the Southern roots of Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott
explain everything. (Since this indictment rests on
decades-old evidence, they ought to be careful about
invoking Old Abe, whose tribute to white supremacy on the
eve of the Civil War ("I am not nor ever have been in favor of
bringing about in any way the social and political equality of
the white and black races") might have made Strom blush in
The chronology of this episode speaks volumes about
who cares about what, and why, and when. The most
interesting part is still ahead.
Mr. Lott, who has a gift for putting his foot in his mouth,
spoke the evil words at Strom's birthday party on
Wednesday. Recalling that Mississippi was one of four states
that cast its electoral votes for Mr. Thurmond in 1948, Mr.
Lott said: "We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country
had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all the problems
over all these years, either."
This was bad. Not only bad, but malicious, spiteful,
malevolent, caustic, mordant, harsh, astringent, unkind,
inconsiderate, heartless (but coldhearted, too), callous, cruel,
savage, inconsiderate, fiendish and maybe even, in Teddy
Kennedy's denunciation, "irresponsible." (Teddy would know
Not only bad and all those other things, but foolish. And
stupid, silly, asinine, dumb, dizzy, fatuous, inept, witless,
goofy, loony, batty and even spoony (you could look it up).
Have we left out anything?
But nobody in Washington noticed or cared until Jesse
Jackson read about it in the Chicago papers and went
gleefully to work. When Jesse speaks, Al Sharpton listens,
and he went to work, too.
The NAACP then joined in, but
Democratic outrage, selective as always, was on hold, and
none of them said anything until Mary Landrieu, to mild
Democratic surprise, won re-election in Louisiana. Tom
Daschle, the leader of the Senate Democrats, and Dick
Gephardt, the leader in the House, even then offered only a
mild rebuke, understanding that politicians, of all people, are
in the business of manufacturing effusion, particularly in
A sweet gassy odor nearly always floats over the
occasion when a senator speaks, and a birthday toast to a
100-year-old man is as close to eulogy as you can get this
side of the graveyard.
Certain conservative and neo-con pundits, who don't like
Trent Lott much, anyway, leaped on the incident as an
opportunity to canonize themselves. George W. held firm for
a day or so with a Daschle-like rebuke, and Republicans had
begun to rally around Mr. Lott, understanding that if the
Democrats knock him out of the leadership all the bubble, fizz
and enthusiasm from the stunning November elections will
With one stroke, the president yesterday cut the ground
neatly from under the men he expects to get his agenda
through the Senate.
There could be a sweet irony here. If Trent Lott is forced
from his job as majority leader, as now appears likely, the
Democrats will be foolish to stop there. They can demand
that he resign from the Senate as well ("erase the Mississippi
stain on the heaving bosom of the fair Republic"). Does
anyone believe the Republicans won't cave on that, too?
Ronnie Musgrove, the Democratic governor, would appoint
his successor. Voila! The Senate is deadlocked again. Karl
Rove is Man of the Year.
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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
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