What can I say? Bloggists Glenn Reynolds, Jeff Cooper, and others are pretty much unanimous that Senator Trent Lott exhibited horrendous judgment, if not outright racism. Even Rush Limbaugh was dismayed. I've never been impressed with Lott, who is a mere lightweight (lott-weight?) when it comes to legislative arts. Compared to Tom Daschle, he's a rank amateur. Frankly, I could care less what he "really meant to say" when ritually praising retiring Senator Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday. For those of us who make a sharp distinction between the worthy pre-1965 civil rights reforms and the tragic post-1965 mischief, Lott's apparent suggestion that America would have been better off if "Jim Crow" laws had been kept on the books could not be more disheartening. Talk about stoking the fires of Black paranoia... As long as he could get a few things done in the Senate, Lott's amiable, accommodative, soft-spoken ways could be excused, but if he's going to hand the Democrats an issue on a silver platter like this, it's obviously time for him to step aside. It will be years before we hear the end of this from the Democrats, but in the mean time at least the Republican leadership in the Senate will be getting a much-needed shake-up.
I won't be missing retiring Senators Jesse Helms or Bob Smith, but the departure of Texan Phil Gramm (a former Democrat and economics professor) is cause for worry. He was brainy and as forthright as anyone on Capitol Hill, a rare exception to the rule of mealy-mouthed mediocrity these days. He's rumored to be a leading candidate to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, so perhaps Phil will play a central role in shaping national economic policy once again.
Senator Landrieu's reelection triumph made President Bush look bad, since he spent almost as much time stumping (in vain) for Suzanne Haik Terrell as he had spent in South Dakota for John Thune, but it may not signify very much in terms of political trends. Landrieu effectively used the Democratic machine built by her father "Moon" Landrieu (former mayor of New Orleans) to mobilize the party's African-American base. No surprise there. According to the Washington Post, Landrieu picked up a number of votes in the final days of the "Round Two" campaign by pledging to protect Louisiana sugar interests from low-cost imports. So now unemployed sugar cane workers from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean basin countries will have to sneak into the U.S. looking for jobs, where they will eventually become -- Democratic voters! Now I get it...
According to the Washington Post, former Bush policy adviser John DiIulio has made "a complete and utter retraction" of his harsh criticisms of the Bush administration. Turns out, he was a Democrat to whom Bush had reached out in a gesture of bipartisan confidence building.