Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 13, 2002
POLITICS/LAW: The Lott Fallout

The National Review Online continues its saturation coverage of the Trent Lott story with a blaringly headlined editorial calling on Lott to resign as Republican Senate leader, and noting that NR had called for Lott's head four years ago. The succinct statement of Lott's moral culpability:

Minority leader Tom Daschle's initial reaction . . . to Lott's remarks was essentially sound Lott misspoke. But Lott misspoke in a particular way, one freighted with symbolic significance. Many southern whites of a certain generation have a shameful past on civil-rights issues. This doesn't necessarily make them reprehensible people, or mean that they are racists today. But, when they are public figures, it is reasonable to expect from them an honest reckoning with their past, and, of course, an awareness that a reckoning is necessary.

This is basically the same point the Supreme Court seemed to be leaning towards making in the cross-burning arguments this week: sometimes, words and symbols have a history, and you invoke that history at your peril. That's why being a Nazi is merely scorned in the United States, but illegal in Germany.

The Wall Street Journal also essentially asks Lott to step down. It's not entirely accurate, as the Journal suggests, to say that conservatives led the charge against Lott's remarks, but certainly many more conservatives outside of politics piled on the issue early than did liberals in journalism or the other usual sites of outrage. The Journal also strangely suggests that John Kerry has been the most vocal of the Democrats' presidential hopefuls on this, which he hasn't; to his credit, albeit with his usual smarmy overstatement, Al Gore was 'fustest with the mostest' in this fight. Peggy Noonan also has a wonderful column accusing Lott of playing the race card and telling him to go; it's worth reading in its entirety.

On the legal front, I have to think the number one casualty of the Lott brouhaha is Charles Pickering. George W. Bush has suggested that some of the judicial nominees killed in committee - namely, Priscilla Owen, the Fifth Circuit nominee who became a key issue in the Texas Senate campaign - would be revived, and with Pickering's son elected to the House from Mississippi and Lott stepping back up as majority leader, it seemed like Pickering would be back too. But Pickering is a white Mississippian, he was charged with racial 'insensitivity,' he was basically sponsored by Lott, and in the current circumstances, that combination will almost certainly make him too hot to handle. It's unfair to him, but that's the way it goes; at least he's still got that life tenure as a US District Judge.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:14 PM | Law 2002-04 • | Politics 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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