Lott's Wife
   by Gene Lyons

      The goals for this country are peace in the world. And the goals for
 this country are a compassionate American for every single citizen.That
 compassion is found in the hearts and souls of the American citizens.
         --President George W. Bush, Dec. 19, 2002

     Here at Unsolicited Opinions, Inc., we can think of no better way to
send Seasons Greetings to our readers than to pass on the bewildering words
of our commander-in-chief. As Mark Crispin Miller has noted in his book
The Bush Dyslexicon, President Junior is never more inarticulate than when
he's faking empathy. Intent upon making war with Iraq, Bush can barely utter
a conventional Christmas peace message without swallowing his tongue.

     Elsewhere, the Trent Lott episode had many Republicans faking shock and
horror at suddenly unfashionable racial sentiments. Writing in the Washington
Times, Little Rock's own Wesley Pruden offered a unique alibi. "Mr. Lott said
an exceedingly foolish and thoughtless thing" he wrote "perhaps because he was
rattled by the roguish pass that Strom Thurmond had just made at his wife."

     As Dave Barry says, we are not making this up. A 100 year-old man
supposedly  hits on the lovely Mrs. Lott and the Senator's response is to wax
nostalgic about "colored" drinking fountains and "separate but equal" schools?
Wouldn't a real Southern Gentleman have challenged Thurmond to a duel?

     Pruden also expressed consternation that the White House caved to what
he characterized as Democratic race-baiters and the New York Times and
Washington Post. "Nothing," he wrote "makes these worthies feel better
or braver than boxing with ghosts. Trent Lott, everybody's friend only a
fortnight ago, makes a particularly tempting target because he's not only a
Southerner, but a Mississippian."

     Lott too picked up on the theme. "When you're from Mississippi and
you're a conservative and you're a Christian," he told the Associated Press
"there are a lot of people don't like that."

     Quite illogically, given his insistence that "nobody deals in racial politics
in the Southany longer," Pruden warned that "if the Gooey Old Party is actually
sincere in wanting to reach out and touch someone black, it should not only
jettison the Southern strategy but perhaps jettison the South as well, and
rebuild its fortunes in the Midwest and New England, where it first flourished.
(Good luck.) The South could be left to drift back to its natural home in the
Democratic Party."

     Pruden warned that recent victories by Democrats Mark Pryor in Arkansas
and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana could be the wave of the future. The problem
is that these victories preceeded the Lott episode. And that, we argued here
last week, showed smarter and more conscientious Republicans the handwriting
on the wall.

     Did certain Yankees whose main contact with black people is watching
NBA games on TV indulge in an anachronistic orgy of moral superiority?
You bet. But it wasn't liberal Democrats who brought Lott down, it was
conservatives. Absent White House leaks, the anti-Lott media frenzy wouldn't
have lasted three days. "Republicans may once have used race to polarize the
electorate, especially in the South," the Wall Street Journal editorial page
said Thursday. "But that strategy long ago stopped being useful." On Friday,
Lott resigned.

      No wonder Lott feels betrayed.Conservative pundits who never said boo
when the first President Bush benefited from the notorious Willie Horton ad
back in 1988, nor when Junior himself beat a path to Bob Jones University,
nor when he shamefully used a telephone whisper campaign to call attention
to Sen. John McCain's "black child" (an adopted daughter from Bangladesh)
during the 2000 South Carolina primary, nor even last month when the GOP
made the Rebel flag a big issue in Georgia, suddenly waxed eloquent about
Lott's wickedness.

     What's going on? Count the electoral votes. There's no state Bush lost
in 2000 he'd be sure of winning tomorrow. And every single one is outside
the old Confederacy. "We have just about maxed out with white men," a
GOP strategist told the Washington Post. "When you look into the future,
all you see is smaller numbers and more and more Hispanics. Look at Texas.
Unless we do something, in a decade or so it's going to go the way of
California...We have to adapt to survive."

     Meanwhile, the job of the Rush Limbaughs of this world is to confuse
dumb white bigots by blaming Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
Limbaugh spent last week smearing the memory of Albert Gore, Sr., one of
a handful of Southern politicians who resisted racist demagoguery when it
was physically dangerous. Also the late Sen. J. William Fulbright.
If Fulbright's civil rights record was flawed, he was certainly no "rabid
segregationist." He supported Truman against the Dixiecrats in 1948, for
example. Nor has Clinton ever failed to make his disagreement with his
mentor on those issues absolutely clear.

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