Tuesday, December 17, 2002

What I learned (or was reminded of at least) from the Trent Lott Fiasco



I didn't see the apology/groveling session on BET, but I have to say this - If Lott's comments about segregation didn't do him in as Senate Majority Leader, then coming out in favor of affirmative action will. It's one thing to make a joke about Jim Crow and do damage to the GOP... its a whole 'nother ballgame to come out against something that has become a GOP party statute.

(George Will posted this idea first though, even if I did come up with this idea completely & independetly on my own while driving into work this morning)

Since the Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott Death Watch has officially commenced, I'd like to review what I've learned;

1-Robert Novak is a worthless sack of shit - this old bastard is a poor excuse for a journalist. I read about the virtual silence on the part of the "liberal media" (New York Time, National Public Radio, Washington Post) journaled in Conason's column. Next thing I know I'm hearing that old hairbag Novak making excuses for Lott and starting to bitch and moan how the "liberal media" is just trying to use the race card. (See Salon article linked here)

"He thought it was a social occasion," Novak said of Lott. "He's thinking what comes to his mind. He's saying -- if you listen to the whole speech, he's making extravagant statements about Strom Thurmond, as he should on his 100th birthday." Novak blamed the press of picking "up something that's said at a birthday party and turn it into a case of whether he should be impeached."


All that tells you is that there are conservatives who don't even wait for liberals to say what they think they will say, my guess is they've been so conditioned and brainwashed into believing GOP propaganda that they bitch about "liberal media bias" before it even happens, which it didn't until after conservatives brought this subject up. His knee jerk reaction against liberals bringing up the Lott comment when liberals had hardly said anything pissed me off more than anything any other pundit said or did. Never pay attention to this windbag ever again.

This old Salon article only confirms how I feel about him.

2-Sean Hannity is also a worthless sack of horseshit
I watched Fox News at the gym when this fiasco first started to gain steam. It was pretty fascinating because I went in with a more observant rather than prejudgemental mind, doing my best just to listen to what GOP TV had to say. I was a bit surprised by Bill O'Reilly not letting the dittohead emailers (to his show) bitch and moan about the closest thing the hardline GOPers have to compare Lott to, that being Senator Byrd. I can't say impressed because O'Reilly has already made a lousy impression on me that he's so scummy it make me queasy. BUT it was unexpected and suprised to see him reprimand his audience in saying that this strategy is really distraction from what Lott said and the media hoopla (I'm paraphrasing).

I caught Hannity and Colmes afterwards however, and I came pretty close to puking. Hannity pestered his guest, doing his best to use the distraction strategy with whomever was on last Thursday(some Female African American Radio Talk Show host, her name escapes me).

Now I don't think the Byrd comparrison is completely out of line, even if is a bit disingenous to bring it up now. Quite frankly I am all about bringing up double standards, they are the best way to judge someone's true intensions. And if they censure Lott, and someone really feels the need to play tit for tat and bring up Byrd's comments, so be it, even if it is disingenous, even if it's just to make the Dems look as bad (it won't work). But what so many have forgotten is this isn't about just any Senator making a comment like this, but rather the Senate Majority Leader said it.

What did send me over the top though was bringing up Al Gore's father vote in a civil rights bill in the 1960's - That's bullshit and Hannity (and anyone who dares bring this up) should know that! The history of segregation and the Democratic party is well documented, along with the Dixiecrat split, and bringing up something from that far back is pathetic for the following reasons;

a) A lot of people in and out of Government were quite openly biased then, and it was more tolerated back then (including Strom Thurmond, remember?) Are we gonna judge everyone Dem and Repub, past and present (not just what Al Gore's dad did 40 years ago as in reference to Lott's comments)? We wouldn't be having this conversation if it weren.t for the fact that everyone saw Gore as the leading challenger to Bush up until his announcement in 60 Minutes. Maybe Hannity can find something on Lieberman's or Kerry's dad on the next show.

A reminder -wasn't it David Duke who ran for Gov. of Louisiana on the GOP ticket? The we start a list of who to judge it should be noted that the GOP list is far longer than Dems.

b) Al Gore's father said after voting againt the civil rights act that it was the biggest mistake of his life. Al actually was pretty miffed at his dad and told him so when they spoke after the vote (it's in a book about Al Gore's life, but I can't tell you what the name of the book is).

And the biggest reason this is bullshit is;

c) It's Al Gore's father!!!!! (1)Al Gore's father isn't a Senator any more and (2)Are all children of Governent officials now responsible for everything their parent did in the past? You couldn't pick anything less relevant and more pathetic example to use in this argument. What a $%@%& joke! If you use this standard for judging any politician then let the Senate Hearings on the involvement of George W. Bush in the Iran Contra Scandal commence immediately!

3-Not all conservatives are hopeless
I may not like Andrew Sullivan all that much but at least he didn't pull any punches and continues to blog away about how Lott is going down.

There were other conservatives, including Jonah Goldberg of the National Review and a slew of others, but to link to every article right now would prove difficult, for there are too many.

PS - I may appreciate Sullivan's take on Lott, but his assessment of Bush having his "Sister Soulja moment" last Friday in Philadelphia is pretty silly; Clinton said what he said in front of a primarily black audience, with no idea what would happen, before he was elected President (was he even the Democratic nominee yet?) Bush said it as the President after the situation had more than a week to boil over.

4-Everything is not hunky dory with race relations in America
It just seems like there are a lot of people who prefer to think that after some definite time point everyone in America magically figured out that Racism is wrong and completely lost all racial biases (except for the KKK). No need for real discussion or dialoge, racism is now dead.

The sad part of all this is The GOP will sack Lott, but nothing else will really change. Here's a genuine opportunity to look at race relations, a chance to stop pretending everything is fine and really look at this nation in terms of race. Instead the GOP will dump Lott and give the Republicans a chance to pat themselves on the back, say they fought racism in their party, and use the sacking as proof they have no other racial biased tendecies.

5-It's not that hard to masquerade as a conservative when you are really racist
I still think there are more people with similar political views as Lott but do a better job of hiding them. I think Lott just slipped up. It's not hard for a racist or white supremicist to use the GOP platform to achieve suppossedly conservative goals.

Some other notes about covert racists; history revision isn't that hard either, with a skilled spinster -
- Apparently the Civil War was about states rights... yeah, the right for states to allow citizens to own slaves!

- Strom Thurmond's presidency was about states rights too? yeah, states rights to keep white and blacks separate! Like the Southern states would have rectified this injustice by themselves..... sheesh

Let's stop pretending everything is okay, okay?

6-Its easy to love MLK now that he's dead.
I always wanted to blog on this, but it'll have to wait. It is amazing though how easy it is for conservatives to drop Martin Luther King's name gratuitously and heap praise on him without having to face up to MLK's scrutiny. Most of the name dropping pundits were against him when he was doing his work way back when, and they never understood (may never understand) what he stood for. Hell, if he were alive today the same name dropping pundits would probably be railing against much of his other work on behalf of the poor (and the other causes he fought for) and probably label him a commie to boot.

7-Heaping praise on the Civil Rights movement (that so many conservatives fought rigorously) is much easier now that we've put more than 35 years between then and now -
same notes on MLK apply here.

8-You don't have to be thrilled with the idea of Affirmative Action to be in favor of it-
I also wanted to blog on this in the past, but you're better off just reading what Ted Barlow's blog opinion is linked here(you may have to scroll a bit after you link to get to it), because he said exactly what I have thought for a long time;

You know, I understand the arguments against affirmative action. Affirmative action is absolutely not fair, and the stigma of being a quota is very real. I don't know how to heal race relations. But you know, it wouldn't hurt if affirmative action opponents recognized that minorities have good reason to doubt that they're being treated fairly in hiring. It's not all in Jesse Jackson's head. And it doesn't hurt when they actively reject ads like this: "You needed that job, but they had to give it to a minority." In the absence of any recognition that minorities actually do have a harder time succeeding than whites, that kind of message is just a thumb in the eye.


And yet after all of this, would you believe I actually feel sorry for Lott - I can't believe it. Listening to him squirm on BET was embarassing. It must be the bleeding heart liberal in me.....

With all this mess about Lott, something far more sinister is brewing and no one is paying attention. Very little can shock me about what Dubya does as President. He could appoint a college football mascot as Surgeon General and I wouldn't think twice except that it will make great late night comedy fodder. He could say that trees are polluting the air or that real reason there has been so many corporate scandals are because of the teachers union and it wouldn't surprise me in the least. But I think for the first time in a long time Dubya has actually shocked me - Timothy Noah cited an editorial a couple of weeks ago in the WSJ about how the poor don't pay enough taxes. That idea that is now gaining steam - Now that the Bush administration is begining to parrot this line.

Everyday I wonder how much worse it can get and almost everyday Bush manages to find a way to do just that, make it worse.

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