Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Electric Slide of Politics

Anyone else having a hard time keeping of track of which step we're on?

The country stepped to the left (marginally) last Tuesday with the Dems winning, trotted a few paces forward when Bush fired Rummy, then backtracked when he renominated John Bolton to the U.N. with a snowball's chance in hell of getting confirmed, and now Trent "I Heart Segregation" Lott is back in the GOP leadership saddle to fuck up the entire rhythm.
Sen. Trent Lott (news, bio, voting record), ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the No. 2 post Wednesday for the minority GOP in the next Congress.

Lott returned to the center of power by getting the position of vote-counting GOP whip, nosing out Sen. Lamar Alexander (news, bio, voting record). Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) told reporters that Lott beat Alexander by a 25-24 vote.

After an intense evening in which both men lobbied colleagues during floor votes, the Republican caucus elected Lott, a one-time whip and majority leader, by secret ballot. Lott will be the GOP's second-in-command to Sen. Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record) of Kentucky, who was elected unanimously to be the Senate minority leader in the new Congress.

Secret ballot - how fitting. The racists do their best lurking in the shadows. And make no mistake, Trent Lott's only regret is that he was caught making his remarks four years ago that were offensive to a wide number of people. From the December 2002 issue of Time Magazine:

Lott...took the podium and declared, "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 followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

The room, jammed with well-wishers, a handful of reporters and one of those ever present C-SPAN cameras, went silent for a moment. And so did the rest of Washington, for a few days. But Lott had set off a time bomb. During the 1948 race Lott was referring to, Thurmond had broken with the Democratic Party over President Truman's expansion of civil rights for black Americans. Thurmond ran for President as the nominee of the States' Rights Party, also known as the Dixiecrats. Its platform was built almost entirely around a pledge to uphold "the segregation of the races and the integrity of each race." Thurmond won 39 electoral votes on his vow that "all the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."

Lott's apparent nostalgia for the days of Jim Crow segregation was denounced as "fundamentally racist" by former Vice President Al Gore. In a terse written statement, Lott apologized to "anybody who was offended" by his "poor choice of words." But the Washington Post reported that Lott had used almost identical words in praise of Thurmond's segregationist campaign during comments in Mississippi in 1980. A slip of the lip suddenly looked like a pattern and opened a public exhumation of Lott's long record of votes and statements hostile to the civil rights movement.

Congratulations GOP, you seem to be following your conservative base's demands by returning to your rotted roots after losing badly in last week's election. You're going to find out rather quickly, however, that a majority of us have left the dance floor in disgust at your behavior.

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