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.