Trent "I'll pretend to like black people now" Lott resigns
Conservatives worried that sudden focus on civil rights might interfere with agenda of hurting minorities, poor people
Too bad he's staying on as Senator. You can get the resignation story from the AP. But honestly, I'm less interested in the fact that Lott resigned than why his fellow Republicans wanted him to resign. From this morning's Boston Globe ("Conservatives say Lott hurts agenda"):
WASHINGTON - Conservatives who expected President Bush and Republican majorities to push their social agenda on Capitol Hill say the firestorm engulfing Senate GOP leader Trent Lott is more than a distraction. They say the sudden focus on civil rights has jeopardized prospects for welfare reform, school vouchers, expanding federal grants to religious charities, and confirming conservative judges.
In other words, conservative Republicans aren't upset because their party is full of racist, sexist, homophobic freakoids, but because people are starting to notice that their party is full of racist, sexist, homophobic freakoids (John Ashcroft, anyone?). And because that might interfere with their plans to make poor people's lives even more difficult, remove funding from already-struggling public schools and gleefully squash the separation of church and state beneath their anti-environmentalist abstinence-education-funding boots. Not to mention interfering with their plans to get rid of affirmative action:
Paul Weyrich, head of the Free Congress Foundation, said the greatest risk is that Lott will sabotage the conservatives' agenda and compromise their principles through his endorsement of affirmative action and his apology for voting against making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday... .You'll have to excuse me for a moment. But please continue to read while I find myself a box of REALLY SMALL TISSUES to sob into with an extreme and total lack of sorry and sympathy:
If every issue is viewed through the lens of race and civil rights, Weyrich said, it could change the focus of the welfare law reauthorization next year from work, marriage, and abstinence education to increased funding. It could impede enactment of Bush's faith-based initiative, which has been targeted by civil rights groups because it would allow religious charities to obtain federal grants and contracts and practice hiring discrimination... Expanding public school vouchers, another conservative agenda, could be undone by arguments that they would drain funds from urban public schools that primarily serve minorities and the poor.
Advocates for ending affirmative action in college admissions say the White House may now be reluctant to join the plaintiff in challenging the constitutionality of the University of Michigan's affirmative action programs. The landmark case will be heard by the US Supreme Court next year, and the Justice Department has until Jan. 16 to decide if it will take sides or stay out of the case.What, you mean your job of getting yourself photographed with Ward "supporting segregation need not be racist" Connerly while you trample on the poor and minorities might get more difficult? My heart bleeds. (As does Jeanne D'Arc's over at Body and Soul).
''If it writes a brief on behalf of the plaintiff, the White House risks headlines that say, `The administration is anti-civil rights,''' said Abigail Thernstrom of Lexington, an opponent of affirmative action. ''I will not blame the administration if it just feels right now that it cannot take that hit.''
Thernstrom, a Republican member of the US Civil Rights Commission, said she ''just felt sick'' when she heard Lott suggest on Dec. 5 that the nation would have been better off if Thurmond, who ran as a segregationist from South Carolina, had won the 1948 presidential election. The consequence, she said, is that Republicans who support civil rights will ''go wobbly'' on issues like affirmative action and school vouchers. ''Our job of getting the message across, that we are committed to racial equality, becomes much, much harder,'' she said.
But to step away from the sarcasm for a moment: please don't imagine that I'm sad that Lott stepped down. (Don't get your hopes up over his replacement, either). I believe his newfound support of affirmative action about as much as I believe Bush when he says that war with Iraq is a last resort.
What I would like is for political leaders to start asking tough questions about all the other powerful Republicans who are just as bad as (if not worse than) Lott--Attorney General John Ashcroft, for example. Not to mention Attorney General John Ashcroft.
A girl can dream, can't she?