I was among the earliest advocates on the Right for Trent Lott’s ouster from his majority leader post after his disgusting remarks in celebration of Strom Thurmond, so you can take it I’m no fan of his or the move to make him Whip. On the other hand, there’s no question that strictly in terms of procedural smarts, the loss of Lott in the Senate leadership and DeLay in the House leadership were both catastrophic for the Republican party. Lott was replaced by the astoundingly incompetent Bill Frist, while DeLay’s departure revealed just how hollow and listless the supposed “leadership” of House Speaker Denny Hastert really was. “Can’t somebody here play this game?” Casey Stengel remarked famously when he was the manager of the 40-120 New York Mets. Clearly, Republicans in the Senate think Lott knows how to play this game.
It’s also worth remembering that not everybody wants these leadership jobs. They’re a little like being in student government (if you’ll excuse a ridiculous analogy). They take up a lot of time, they’re kind of thankless, and nobody you have to boss around actually works for you. If controlling the schedule and managing the paperwork seems exciting to you, then probably these are jobs for you. In the executive branch, the hardworking folks who were willing to take these excruciating jobs ended up with a great deal of power (Richard Darman is a key case in point), but the cost of it was having to do the excruciating scut work. It takes a certain type even to want such employment, especially now, when holding such a job is likely to make you a target of hate campaigns on the Internet and elsewhere.