You can pretty much tell Trent Lott is toast when he tells Black Entertainment Television that he "absolutely" supports affirmative action.I like that euphemism. "Racially edgy". All of a sudden this looks a hell of a lot worse than it did a few minutes ago. If they're jettisoning Lott because they're going to be engaging the full spin machine to run cover for what amounts to a wholesale assault on minorities, that says more and worse than if they had simply ran cover for him.
One of the subtexts of the intra-Republican fight going on right now is that congressional Republicans are already looking to push an agenda that is, let's say, racially edgy. They don't want to hit that fight with Lott's baggage in tow.
Ed Kilgore is the Policy Director of the Democratic Leadership Council -- in other words, not exactly like a proxy for Al Sharpton or anything. And today he told me this ...
The angle some people may be missing about conservatives and Lott is that they are eager to pursue a number of things--a scaleback of affirmative action policies, private school vouchers, appointment of conservative judges with backgrounds more questionable than Lott's--that will create some concerns that the GOP is not exactly the reborn Party of Lincoln that appeared on TV screens at the 2000 convention. Given this agenda, conservatives don't want the task complicated by a Senate Leader (whom they don't like anyway) whose very name will conjure up racial dissension for the foreseeable future. For one thing, they're afraid the Bush White House will put the kibosh on controversial conservative initiatives if Lott has carry the water. So don't be fooled into thinking that GOP conservatives will drop an anvil on Lott strictly because they are horrified by his words.
I think that's exactly right. If Lott now tries to remake himself as a born-again civil rights man, that just makes him doubly useless to the fire-eaters in his caucus. Certainly not all Republican Senators see it in this light. I doubt Linc Chafee or McCain or Olympia Snowe look at it this way. But then that's why it's the conservatives in the caucus who are pushing hardest to dump him.
Also be sure to read this New Dem Daily (I'm sure written by Ed) on what the Lott scandal really means.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Posted by Demosthenes at 6:58 PM