Compare and Contrast

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One reason why John Ashcroft is attorney general today is because, when he was nominated for the post, his opponents kept flinging dubious charges of racism (and innuendoes about his stance on abortion) rather than pointing to his troubling record on civil liberties. While it's not clear that an anti-Ashcroft campaign could have succeeded with criticisms that were (a) accurate and (b) obviously relevant to the office he was applying for, it certainly would have had a better shot than the approach taken instead.

Now we have Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, whose recent comments on Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign?that "if the rest of the country had followed our lead [in supporting him], we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years"?can only be read as nostalgia for the days of Jim Crow. Where's the uproar?

Charges of racism: They're great when you need a sharp-edged weapon, but don't drag them out just because someone's merely, you know, an actual racist.

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  1. can we believe we have a managed press? where have you been living? under a rock? our press has been managed for YEARS. take the panama canal issue, in the 1990’s…our government only allowed certain people in, who promised to report certain things…and of course they fell in line. our military had orders to beat and jail reporters who “snuck in” to see the damage they ravaged on one of the poorest parts of panama. They also destroyed these reporters cameras and evidence. you have to read papers from other countries to get the real stories behind our own government. so much for democracy and freedom of the press.

    oh, and regardless if he’s white…anyone who makes a comment like that, purple, orange or green, should be fired IMMEDIATELY. and we wonder why there’s such racial tension…

  2. So if I say that Al Gore is a man much in the model of his father, am I calling him a racist? His dad was. Look, you have a 100 year old man and a birthday party. Lott was dumb, but this is really a molehill. What would you say at a friend’s birthday party? Talk about everything you know about him that is inappropriate? That’s a roast, not a party. Lighten up. OK?

  3. Strom and Jesse Helms are racists, Trent is too; but somebody keeps electing them. What is it that all these men have in common?

  4. Jeff seems to think there are only two possible ways to behave at a man’s 100th birthday party:

    1. Harp on “everything you know about him that is inappropriate,” thus making an ass of yourself.

    2. Talk about the exact same stuff, and claim it’s actually something to be proud of.

    There might be other options.

  5. Well, I suppose that’s one way to read Lott’s remarks, though it strikes me as rather, um, counterintuitive. I certainly wouldn’t describe your interpretation as “obvious,” or suggest that anyone who disagrees with it must be either insane (cf. your moldy tin-foil-hat joke) or motivated by partisanship (cf. your remark about “gotcha politics”). But that’s just me.

  6. Actually, the outrage is all over the left half of the blogsphere, at least the part that doesn’t take the weekend off. You’re at least 48-54 hours behind on this story.

    The left half is also wondering why people like, say, the President, aren’t calling for Lott’s resignation, or at least a better apology than the lame excuse his flack coughed up. Of course Bob Novak said “I think Trent Lott was kidding”, and maybe Lott was. Ha, ha, ha.

  7. He’s white so he must be racist.

  8. Well, Bennett, the whole point is that Lott’s remarks went well beyond praising the man to apparently praising his 1948 platform. You seem to be unique among commentators in not only failing to understand this, but impuning foul motives to anyone who does.

    As for small-mindedness and political correctness: I’m a straight white male from the South myself. It seems rather small-minded of you to assume otherwise, and rather P.C. to imagine that my comments — none of which referred to your, Lott’s, or Thurmond’s sexual orientation, skin color, gender, or regional origin — could only be the product of prejudice against such factors.

    This discussion is getting boring. Actually, it got boring long ago. Feel free to take the last word; I’m through with it.

  9. I know about the outrage in the blogosphere. I’m afraid it doesn’t compare to the outrage Ashcroft stirred up in Washington and the major media.

    Bennett: Here you say it was flattery, but on your weblog you say it was a joke. Are you aware that there’s a difference?

  10. Would you believe that we have a managed press?

  11. I doubt if he’s really a racist. But he’s most certainly an idiot.

    The Dems are praying that he won’t step down–he’s been their best friend for six years.

  12. The Dems don’t want this half-wit loser replaced by someone who could be much more effective. So they won’t make much noise about it.

  13. Of course, if Strom had not got his way on D-Day, a lot of his critics might have had to speak german to get ahead. “Follow me,” I believe it was.

  14. Why don’t we just give Trent himself the last word:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/11/politics/11LOTT.html

    With any luck, we can stick a fork in him.

  15. Richard Bennett is obviously wrong given that Lott has said this before in a different context in 1980. Now, I guess he could say that Lott really didn’t mean it back then either because Lott was just trying to get people at a political rally pumped up. I guess…

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