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
Tomorrow's News Today

Once again, you can find it in the blogosphere. On Thursday, I was sure, along with many others, that Lott was out as majority Leader. But that day Daily Kos wrote:

Say Lott is pushed out. In the past, disgraced leaders (like Livingston) have resigned their seats. Really, the humiliation of getting the heave-ho is better swallowed back home, than sitting amongst those who gave you the boot.

BUT, if Lott resigns his seat, Mississippi's Democratic governor will (theorertically) appoint a Democrat to replace him. Normally, this wouldn't be the worst thing possible. It's not as if MS wouldn't return a Republican to the Senate in a 2004 special election.

But these are not ordinary times. If Lott is replaced by a Democrat (a Zel Miller Democrat, no doubt, but one that would vote for Daschle), that would make the Senate 50-50 once again. And THEN, a Chaffee switch is not inconceivable.

The beauty of this scenario is that Republicans couldn't cry that Democrats "stole" the Senate. Lott's resignation would be his fault alone, while Chaffee's switch would be seen by moderates as a repudiation of the GOP's dominant Southern wing. Partisan Republicans couldn't seize on this the way they did with the Jefford's switch.

So, it's clear that for Republicans to assure themselves the majority, they could not afford to have Lott resign his seat. But if he was pushed out, could he really go from the number two Republican to essentially a back-bencher? (Indeed, who would even work with him? He'd be radioactive!) The pressure for him to quit the Senate would be intense (from pundits, his own pride, and, perhaps, even feelings of betrayal and spite).

Today, Atrios reports from the Weekly Standard that Lott may indeed be unwilling to stay on as a back bencher, leaving Republicans with a nasty choice between keeping on a damaged Majority Leader and risking an outright loss of their majority.

Meanwhile, more news of Lott's past is surfacing. From today's New York Times:

In 1969, when Trent Lott was a young legislative aide to a staunch segregationist congressman from Mississippi, one of his jobs was responding to angry letters from constituents outraged by the progress of integration.

"Mississippi is no more," one woman, Justeen Strange, wrote to her representative, William L. Colmer, a longtime Democrat from Pascagoula, that July. "Thanks to our politicians, we are slaves to the gorilla race, our proud white race is now in servitude to the NAACP jews and negroes."

Mr. Lott, writing above Mr. Colmer's signature, politely replied that he was "not insulted" by Ms. Strange's letter, adding, "I was just disappointed that you were not more appreciative of my efforts in behalf of sound government and against the things you complained of."