So it looks like some journalists are finally paying attention to Trent Lott’s sentimental trip down Segregation Lane at Strom Thurmond’s birthday bash last week--even if congressional Democratic leaders aren’t. From Salon.com ("Caught Whistling Dixie"):
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's big mistake came last Thursday, at a ceremony commemorating the 100th birthday of Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. When it was his turn to speak, Lott boasted that his home state of Mississippi had supported Thurmond's run for president in 1948, and that "if the rest of the country had followed our lead we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years."
Thurmond ran in 1948 as an openly pro-segregationist Dixiecrat. Lott's comment, according to the Washington Post, was met by "an audible gasp and general silence."
But perhaps even more surprising is how that stunned silence extended all the way to the Democratic Party. By Monday, many black leaders and black organizations had denounced Lott's remarks. On Monday, Lott said only that his comments "were not an endorsement of [Thurmond's] positions of more than 50 years ago, but of a man and his life." And four days later, few leading Democrats -- including those considering a bid for the 2004 race -- were willing to openly criticize the senator.
Even Democrats who condemned Lott's statements Monday did not mention his former affiliation with the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CCC was the successor to the segregationist White Citizens' Councils of the 1960s. In a 1992 speech, Lott told a group of CCC members, "The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy." When Lott was criticized in 1998 for his involvement, he said he had "no firsthand knowledge" of CCC's racial views.
Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who will hand the Majority Leader's position back to Lott at the beginning of the new Senate term in January, said Monday that he had spoken to Lott about the comments and was confident that Lott did not mean to endorse the Dixiecrat policies of Thurmond's presidential run. "There are a lot of times when he and I go to the mike and would like to say things we meant to say differently, and I'm sure this is one of those cases for him as well," Daschle said.
So I have to wonder--how much more blatantly racist would Lott have to be before Daschle + co. found the nerve to possibly maybe sort-of criticize him? Would he have to be live on CNN screaming "I really really really hate black people!"?
Naw, I'm sure they'd find an excuse for that too.