Lott's Q&A


For those who missed it last night, BET has posted streaming video of Trent Lott's interview here.

Whether Lott's performance will save his skin when his GOP pals vote on his leadership in January, his appearance was a fascinating masterpiece of mendacity–the sort of spectacle that can only deepen distrust of politicians, regardless of ideology or party affiliation.

The Senate Majority Leader–a baby boomer raised in the Deep South, who worked to keep his frat segregated in the early '60s–didn't understand "who this man [Martin Luther King, Jr.] was, the impact he was having on the fabric of this country" when it came to vote for an MLK federal holiday in 1983?

Yeah, right. While there are legit reasons to always vote no on creating any new federal holidays, that answer was indicative of Lott's general cover-his-ass strategy. As humorous as it was to see a self-styled conservative chalk up his character failings to root causes (the "wicked" society in which he was raised), it was sobering to see a politician so at sea that he resembled Ted Kennedy at Chappaquidick.

Lott's ultimate failing is that of the Republican Party, who might as easily be mistaken for the Party of George Lincoln Rockwell as of Abraham Lincoln. When it came time for Lott to articulate how he was going to mend his ways and pitch ideas to black constituents, he had nothing to say. For decades, the GOP has studiously avoided advancing their supposed vision of a colorblind society to blacks. If they had spent the past 30 or 40 years addressing black audiences as well as white–preaching what they claim is a gospel of low taxes, economic growth, entrepreneurship, and education–they'd have some credibility. Those are colorblind ideas and programs and they would benefit blacks and whites equally. But the fact that the GOP has seen fit to cede 90 percent of the black vote to the Democrats says something about them. And it's not flattering.

NEXT: Fresh Air

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. A lot of people are saying “Trent Lott is not a racist,” but what they really mean is “Trent Lott is not a racist anymore.” And since we apparently have such a tolerance for former racists in our government, is there a need to give them leeway when their roots expose themselves if even a little.

    Why we have former Dixiecrats holding public office at all in this country is something maybe voters from the great state of Mississippi can explain, because I’m kind of at a loss.

  2. Kevin:

    I’m at loss to explain. Why…did you know that a former KKK member is the esteemed democrat senator from West Virginia? Where’s the outrage? If I recall correctly, he was a Senate Majority Leader at one time?

    And let’s take this a little further and consider the outrageous statements made by Jesse Jackson not all that long ago (Remember “Hymietown”?). How come democrats and liberals (lower case intended) get a free ride for whatever they say? I’m not saying Lott shouldn’t be held accountable. I’m wondering why there’s a double standard (like I haven’t figured it out already).

  3. I think the basic observation that there is much in the conservative agenda that could appeal to Black Americans is correct; however unfortunately there’s nothing to compare to the appeal of becoming a ‘special victim class’ that is entitled to all sorts of freebies from the government. Hence, the Republicans have concentrated their efforts the the ‘special victim classes’ of their own – the overtaxed rich, the beleagured and defamed big businesses, the oversubsidized farm lobby, the military and defence industry, etc. I tend to vote Republican because I find them the lesser of the two evils but the problem with politics is that everyone is a special interest now, and no one is looking at balancing everyone’s interests. Except liberatians and no one votes for them anyway….

  4. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I could accept that he was just trying to make an old man feel good and didn’t properly think through the issues surrounding that election when he made the comment. I also don’t think he is racist. However, his ridiculous pandering (apparantly he now believes in affirmative acion) and lying (he seems to have completely missed the 60s and didn’t notice the civil rights movement until this past weekend) mark him as a man who will say anything to maintain his power.
    I believe most politicians are honest, good people who are doing what they think is best. Unfortunately, too many leaders – from all parties – seem to have abandoned all honesty in a bid for power.
    The Democrats in general, and black Americans specifically, should forgive him, if only for the tremendous pandering that will follow. I would not be surprised if Sen. Lott announced that he has decided to promote reparations.

  5. I understand that Republicans might want to get the most bang for their buck during a campaign but elected national leaders from what ever party shold go out of their way to speak to everyone. Republicans should speak at left wing national orgs and Democrats should speak at right wing national orgs. It would do them all some good to get shot at and missed and shit at and hit.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.