Here is what Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said yesterday at Senator Strom Thurmond's birthday party, according to ABCNEWS' O'Keefe. "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."Good grief.
There is, as you might recall, an election in the Bayou tomorrow, where African-American turnout is crucial to the chances of Democratic incumbent Landrieu. Maybe Lott was being jocular. But a plain reading of what he said did generate some anger:
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."
Lott certainly made a mistake, and probably cost a Senate seat in Louisiana. Anybody with real world experience ought to know that race baiters will seize upon anything, especially on the eve of an election.
The Note blurb said that "a plain reading of what he said did generate some anger". No, it took the addition of a lot of context on an occasion where Thurmond was retiring after long service. To make an issue of this is akin to using the Martin Luther King holiday as an occasion to air the gentleman's FBI file. As Jack Kennedy might have said, "No class".
And what was the context? That Thurmond was running as Presidential candidate for the States' Rights party, which overtly favored segregation. In retrospect it's refreshingly honest - few politicians were willing to be forthright about what was in fact was a common sentiment in Congress and throughout the country at the time.
So IMO the fuss by liberals is nothing but the usual race-baiting. And the fuss by conservatives is about getting a chance to posture while ridding themselves of a man who many found a disappointment as Senate Majority Leader.
The other nine-tenths (subscribers only) are capable of being gracious while acknowledging the service of a 100 year old, changed man.