The Campaign Spot

“The Electrified Goat Fence”: Clearly, I Was Wrong To Doubt Trent Lott’s Leadership

Me, back in November:

And if you think the sole fallout from Trent Lott’s reappearance in the Senate GOP leadership is going to be just “a few bad headlines and a little disgust” … well, I think the word “macaca” can refute that notion…
I don’t say this as a huge fan of Lamar Alexander, but simply to note that he doesn’t come into the job with enormous amounts of baggage that a hostile media and political opponents will utilize at every opportunity. In a media environment such as this, you don’t give your opponent a stick to beat you over the head with.

Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff, back in November:

The same with the Lott decision. Jim thinks that Lott’s old comment about Thurmond will cost Republicans dearly over the next two years. I don’t. To my knowledge, the past (or even present) utterances of a minority whip have never appreciably set back a political party. If the party in power this year couldn’t get mileage out of the comments of the better known John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi, I don’t see how the new party in power will get mileage out of stale comments by Lott. Jim points to the impact of “macaca.” That comment hurt the candidate who made it in his particular race. That doesn’t mean that Lott’s old remark will hurt other candidates.
But even I’m wrong about this, or (more plausibly) it turns out that Lott’s fondness for pork is a substantial negative, one should still weigh the rationale for (and the upside of) selecting Lott — his apparent back room skill. Jim doesn’t do this.

For a while, I staunchly held my belief that giving Lott a high-profile leadership positon was a boneheaded move. And then…
Trent Lott, earlier this month:

“Talk radio is running the country. We’re going to have to deal with that problem.”

Trent Lott, now:

“If the answer is ‘build a fence’ I’ve got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain’t no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence.”
“Now people are at least as smart as goats,” Lott continued. “Maybe not as agile. Build a fence. We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it.”
“I’m not proposing an electrified goat fence,” Lott added quickly, “I’m just trying, there’s an analogy there.”

Well, clearly I was way off base. I’m sure Lott’s “backroom skill” is making this all worthwhile.

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