Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Saturday, December 14, 2002
 
Howard Fineman is a typical example of the Washington media, and his column on the Lott meltdown is a good example of the lengths they'll go to to find excuses for Republicans - and themselves.

Lott comes from a time and place—Mississippi in the ’50s and early ’60s—when segregation was a way of life and defending it was still a route to power. He was a cheerleader at Ole Miss and has been cheerleading for the old days ever since. As a young congressman, he filed a friend of the court brief in favor of preserving the right of Bob Jones University to bar blacks from admission. Lott, by the way, was eventually joined by the Reagan administration itself. A year before that he said what he repeated the other week: that the country would have been better off had Strom won election in 1948.

I’ve covered Lott for quite some time and find him to be a courteous, gentlemanly fellow in person. But I think he just is incapable of understanding how offensive it is even to joke—even at Strom’s birthday—about a segregationist campaign.

How exactly did Fineman determine Lott was joking? Lott didn't deliver it as a joke, nobody laughed, and none of his numerous semi-apologies has cliamed he was joking. Lott's history, which Fineman knows and at least does mention, hardly suggests he was joking. The only plausible reason to say it was a joke is to spare Lott the embarassment of having said it seriously, even though he plainly did.

As usual in Washington, the statement itself isn’t as damaging as his reaction to having made it. Indeed, when he first made his comments at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, none of the reporters watching the event gave the remarks a second thought. It was only two days later, when The Washington Post explained the history that Lott had invoked, that the brushfire began.

To which I can only say, What the F***?! What history did the Post explain that reporters weren't already familiar with? I can match anybody in the room in my contempt and loathing for the Washington punditocracy, and even I can't accept that none of them already knew that Thurmond ran as a segregationist, or that blacks had a hard time in the South before Civil Rights. Even I don't buy that they're that stupid. Is there any meaning here at all beyond an utterly lame excuse for the media's failure to lead on this story?



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