Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 12, 2002
POLITICS: Trent Lott on the Brain
OK, I've had Trent Lott on the brain this week - as Rick Brookhiser points out on NRO, Justice Thomas' comments were probably triggered in part by the same thing - but I've got to pass on the link you can use to do something, especially if (like me) you are in a state with no GOP senators. (In fact, New York borders on five other states, four of which also have no GOP senators). You can send a message to the RNC here. Here's what I wrote:
I write as a deeply committed and deeply concerned lifelong Republican. I have donated money to the RNC, the RSCC, and several Republican campaigns in my state and around the country. I've held signs in the rain on election day, attended rallies, stuffed envelopes for GOPAC back when Newt was still talking about making Bob Michel the Speaker, interned with a Republican congressman, debated College Democrats, served as a College Republicans officer and president of the Harvard Law School Republicans. I'm on your eChampions email list. I vote in primaries. I maintain a weblog with conservative political commentary. I am your base.
Trent Lott must step down, or be made to step down, as a member of the leadership of our party in the Senate. First, his comments themselves are appalling in their nostalgia for the Jim Crow campaign of the Dixiecrats; at a minimum, they represent a complete failure to understand how the comments would be heard. This is our messenger? Second, his apologies have been too little, too late. Third, these comments and similar blindness to public perception with regard to race relations have not been isolated; there is a long record of the Senator making these kinds of foolish statements. Fourth, he has singlehandedly given credence to the Democrats' favorite charge: that any and all Republican policies are motivated by racism and a wish to roll back all social progress of the last half century. We will now be forced to choose: try to disprove that charge by forcing out Senator Lott as majority leader, or try to disprove it by caving in to all the Democrats' ruinous policy demands. Senator Lott's public statements suggest that he may pursue the latter strategy, with disastrous results for the president's judicial nominations as well as nearly any other fruits of the 2002 election. Finally, Senator Lott's record as Senate leader has not otherwise inspired great confidence in his willingness and ability to press the agenda that is in the party's best interests, nor to fearlessly advocate responsible government and respect for the rule of law.
The 2002 elections were a great victory, and one of the prime architects of that victory, Senator Bill Frist, would make a fine majority leader. As would Senator Nickles, and many other GOP Senators. We have a great team in the Senate, and a great message. As party, we can not afford to throw that away by following a leader who simply doesn't understand what the Party of Lincoln must stand for and how it is perceived.
For the good of the party, Trent Lott must leave the Senate's leadership.