Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Lott Must Go

I don’t care how good Lott is supposed to be at the backroom dealing of the Senate (which is his reputed strength); he has to go.

His blooper only makes evident what Chris Caldwell warned out about in a terrific article several years ago in the Atlantic Monthly called "The Southern Captivity of the GOP." I am not sure if it available online anywhere, but it is worth tracking down.

The trouble here is that the Party of Lincoln can only deal with issues of race and identity politics by being the Party of Lincoln’s Principles. Lott (and many other Republican) are oblivious to this. Not only did Lott say this recent outrage, but in the 1980s, according to NY Post columnist Robert George, he said that the platform of Jefferson Davis was in the Republican Platform of 1984.

This is unacceptable. The time has come to have it out with the Lincoln’ bashers who find their convenient home in the GOP. It should be made less convenient for them.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I agree that Lott should go, but I wonder whether there are many in the Republican leadership who are willing to push him out. Too many Republicans, I think, are likely to dismiss his offensive comment as stupid and thoughtless but ultimately harmless and over-hyped by the liberal media and leaders of liberal interest groups who smell blood in the water. This is a shame, because, as Hayward points out, Lott’s comment reveals what a terrible price the Republican Party has paid for its expedient alliance with the political sucessors to Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat Party.

Paul Krugman masticates on Lott’s "retroactive" endorsement of Thurmond for President in 1948 in today’s NYT column, but at the outset of today’s column, Krugman asks a question that is more interesting than the sum of the column itself: Why, exactly does Mississippi seem to be a conservative state? As Krugman puts it:

"A man from Mars ? or from Europe ? might expect Mississippi voters to favor progressive taxation and generous social programs. After all, the state benefits immensely from the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson: it doesn’t pay a lot of federal taxes because it has the lowest per-capita income in the nation, and it does receive a lot of aid. Unlike, say, New Jersey, which pays far more into the U.S. Treasury than it gets in return, Mississippi is a major net recipient of federal funds."

Of course, as Krugman suggests, the relative "conservatism" of Mississippi
voters has something to do with States’ rights, the Civil War, the Civil
Rights Movement, and the Dixiecrat legacy, but Krugman makes a major
mistake by equating this particular kind of Southern conservativism with a
genuine neo-conservative preference for free markets, low taxes, and small
government. Like most relatively poor political republics, Mississippi
is a state whose politics is dominated by populism -- i.e., by policies
which serve the preferences and interests of a majority of relatively poor citizens whose prospects for prosperirty are limited by lack of education and economic development and by a few special interests (such as the plaintiffs’ bar) who profit enormously from policies that ostensibly serve the "little guy". This simple fact is obvious to any political analyst who actually knows anything about Mississippi and its politics, yet, Krugman naively and ineptly misunderstands it and misconstrues it
to impugn the entire Republican Party.
Mississippi’s populist character
explains why the state and its elected officials are not nearly so staunchly and purely conservative as, say, South Carolina, its wealthier sister. (See, for example, Missississippi’s current Governor, Ronnie Musgrove and its recently defeated Congressman Ronnie Shows and also the recent attempts to limit lawsuit abuse via tort reform.) Furthermore, it also explains, at least in part, how a man like Lott can become the leader of the Republican party in the Senate. As Hayward points, out Lott’s reputed strength is in brokering deals. That is an important skill for any politician, but it is an especially essential skill for a populist politician. Over the years, Lott has been able to acquire power for himself using that skill.

I believe Lott’s offensive comment was, as many have suggested, utterly thoughtless, but it is shocking to see just how thoughtless a white Southern Republican can be about a very specific and important moment in history of American politics and in the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the twentieth century. Notice that in his most recent apology, Lott still does not actually say that racial segregation by law is a moral evil today just as it was in 1948 when Thurmond defended it. Lott should go ... he must go. It only remains to be seen whether the Compassionate Conservative in the White House or others in the Party of Lincoln have the political courage to make it happen. Let’s hope so.

Good memory (but of course)!

Here’s a link to the Caldwell article:

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/98jun/gop.htm

Well I am no Trent Lott fan and his comments were the height of political idiocy, but he was speaking off the cuff at a birthday party for gosh sake. Nearly everything he said was gross exageration such as something about one of the "greatest living Americans".

Heck even Tom Daschle gave him a pass on the remarks.

And oh the hypocricy of the Democrats. If Thurmond represents evil, what about Booby Byrd. Once a leader in the KKK and recently throwing the N bomb around on the Senate floor. where are the calls for his resignation?

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