Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott's decision to leave Congress before the end of the year raises several issues, including where his party is headed. The Mississippi Republican's resignation is the latest in a string of GOP retirements, 17 thus far in the House and six in the Senate, many in politically vulnerable areas. This series of departures is perhaps a bellwether for 2008.
An effective vote-counter and party whip, Mr. Lott made a remarkable political comeback after making racially insensitive comments in 2002 that forced him to leave his post as Senate majority leader. Early this year, Mr. Lott again rose to the top echelons of party leadership, but now has grown tired of the partisan gridlock that has characterized much of this year's Senate process. He did an about-face from espoused conservative principles by backing the McCain-Kennedy amnesty plan for illegal aliens and the so-called DREAM Act, which would reward illegals attending college.
Mr. Lott strategically chose to quit on or before Dec. 31 partially to avoid new ethics rules that double to two years the waiting period before an elected official can lobby lawmakers. He has chosen to cash in now, when his party's stock is down, rather than choosing to complete the six-year term that his constituents re-elected him to fulfill. …