Lott's conservative critics. What Trent Lott and nitwits such as Sean Hannity seem not to realize is that this isn't partisan, and it's not really about the racist remarks Lott made at Strom Thurmond's birthday party last week. Many conservatives have been leading the charge in the effort to drive Lott out as Senate Republican leader, if not out of the Senate itself. And the reason is that Lott's praise for Thurmond's 1948 segregationist presidential campaign was reflective of Lott's longstanding practice of seeking friendship and support from the most racist, retrograde elements of the Republican Party.
This morning, Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, a stalwart conservative, calls on Lott to resign, calling him "a witless yahoo who waxes nostalgic for the pre-civil rights South." WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) talk-show host Jay Severin, who stands approximately to the right of Tom DeLay, has been urging Lott to step down as well. No surprise there: Severin delights in calling affirmative action a form of "racism," but he also marched for civil rights in the 1960s.
Another conservative, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, writes today, "Mr. Lott's remarks reopen one of the rawest and ugliest moments in American politics." Fund reports that the four Republican appointees to the US Civil Rights Commission -- including the extremely conservative, anti-affirmative-action Abigail Fernstrom -- have issued a statement saying that Lott's comments "were particularly shameful coming from a leader of the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, and the party that supported all of these essential steps forward far more vigorously than the Democratic Party, which at the time was the home of Congressional southerners committed to white supremacy." (Question for Thernstrom: the Democrats used to support slavery, too. Is that still relevant?)
Conservative Andrew Sullivan has been huge on this, and has posted more good stuff this morning -- including a shot at the loathsome Hannity. (Last night, on the Fox News Channel's Hannity and Colmes, the witless cohost demanded that the black congressman who'd agreed to come on the show defend the Reverend Jesse Jackson's statements that he spit into the food of white people when he was a youth. Say what?) Sullivan writes that Lott "cannot be Republican Senate Majority Leader any more without destroying a good deal of what George W. Bush has accomplished" -- a reference, I suppose, to the president's halting but sincere efforts to make the Republican Party more inclusive.
Reader LC called my attention to yet another conservative columnist who is demanding Lott's resignation, Charles Krauthammer, who writes in today's Washington Post:
This is not just the kind of eruption of moronic bias or racial insensitivity that cost baseball executive Al Campanis and sports commentator Jimmy the Greek Snyder their careers. This is something far more important. This is about getting wrong the most important political phenomenon in the past half-century of American history: the civil rights movement. Getting wrong its importance is not an issue of political correctness. It is evidence of a historical blindness that is utterly disqualifying for national office.
And on and on it goes, and will go, until Trent Lott finally goes.
One final point. Hannity-inspired boneheads who blame Lott's woes on liberals should consider that it's the Democrats who have the most to gain by his staying on, as Wayne Woodlief notes in today's Boston Herald. You can be sure that President Bush is waiting for Lott to do the right thing so that he doesn't have to whack him in public. But Lott's values are not Bush's, and if Lott insists on staying, he's going to cripple the next two years of Bush's presidency.
I suspect Lott has maybe one more day to step down before Karl Rove tells him to expect the president to mention him in a brief statement on the White House lawn.