His remarks – saying that we’d be better off if Strom Thurmond had won the 1948 election as a Dixiecrat — at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party were incandescently idiotic according to any criteria (See, David Frum’s excellent piece for the details). On the facts, Lott’s comments were dumb. Morally, they were indefensible. Politically, they served to confirm the suspicions of millions of blacks and liberal whites about what is in the hearts of conservatives and Republicans while earning him nothing but a smile from a 100 year-old man. And, on that note, surely Lott could have said something which would have been just as flattering to Thurmond without the Republican Senate Majority Leader saying that things would have been a lot better if we never passed anti-lynching laws. I would be more tempted to defend Lott – who I doubt actually believes what he said – if Lott didn’t have habit of saying things that make me cringe.
Look: It may be a function of the political circles I travel in, but I simply don’t know anybody who really loves Trent Lott. Some people may think he’s harmless or an able technician or better than some alternatives, but I’ve never heard anyone give an impassioned defense of Lott as a thinker or political strategist. He was useless during impeachment, he loves pork (not the tastey kind), and — obviously — he’s ineffective in communicating a coherent and principled message. So tell me, What is he good for?