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  xFriday, December 13, 2002

lott needs to go


It's being batted around in some left-leaning blogs that Democrats shouldn't push too hard for Lott's ouster as Majority Leader, on the grounds that his retention would be more politically advantageous: the flap would weaken him politically, and it'd be a dandy issue in 2004 now that the Dems have rediscovered the importance of their minority supporters.

(Update: As Talking Points Memo puts it, "...a lot of Democrats would actually prefer Lott stay as Majority Leader. ...Because as long as he's Senate Majority Leader, politically speaking, he's the gift that just keeps on giving.

Consider the fact that right now we're debating whether the Republican Senate Majority Leader is a racist who yearns for the days of segregation or just a good ole boy who says a lot of things that make it seem like he's a racist who yearns for the days of segregation. I think you can say that that's a debate the Democrats are pretty comfortable having. And it'll keep being that way. Republicans are starting to realize that.")

I can't agree with keeping Lott as Majority Leader. The entire Senate needs to join in embracing the idea that someone who expresses the statements Lott did is simply not acceptable as the leader of that body, especially in light of mounting evidence that those statements might be a genuine reflection of his attitude. Even if Lott's elevation to Majority Leader offers some political advantage, for Democrats to soft-pedal their criticism would undermine their credibility as that party that most strongly believes in equal rights. Rather, I think this sorry episode is an opportunity for the Democrats to repudiate any flirtation with the voter demographic that Lott's comments might resonate with and, to the contrary, cast a glaring light on any candidate that attempts to curry favor with that crowd, even with euphemistic code words. Indeed, if Lott's ouster means that somewhere down the road a Democratic politician is held tro account for genuinely racist comments, so much the better for the nation.

Congress has no business dictating to states who they're allowed to elect. If the citizens of a district choose a member of the KKK, a Communist, a transvestite "nun", a John Bircher, or an unabashed geek to represent them, that's their business. But the national party is free to declare them an embarrassment and implicitly repudiate them by denying them a leadership role. I expect such will be Lott's fate, and I will applaud the GOP when it happens.

(By the way, Kos points out, Lott's getting the boot from the leadership position has interesting implications.)

It's time to bury the stinking corpse of segregation once and for all. As I said one one of Dodd's comment threads, this is an occasion when the right thing, and the politically advantageous thing, happily coincide.





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