A Sorry Lott. (Editorials)
Trent Lott has grudgingly relinquished his grip on the Senate majority leader post, but that doesn't mean that the Republican Party has purged "the spirit of Jefferson Davis" that Lott famously described as living on in the party platform. Indeed, on the same day that Lott resigned, GOP Congressman Cass Ballenger of North Carolina told the Charlotte Observer that Georgia Democratic Representative Cynthia McKinney was "a bitch" whose politics had so provoked him that "I must admit I had segregationist feelings." Like Lott when his approving comments about Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign caused a storm of protest, Ballenger insisted that he was guilty only of a poor "choice of words."
Lott's fate was sealed when the White House decided it needed a smoother, and smarter, son of the Confederacy running the Senate. But the record of Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, elected December 23, is no better than Lott's: The NAACP gives him a 15 percent rating in its latest survey of Senate votes compared with 12 percent for Lott; the latest National Hispanic Leadership Agenda survey gave Frist 18 percent to Lott's 27. A People for the American Way study of the voting records of Lott, Frist and the three other contenders for Senate leader (Mitch McConnell, Don Nickles and Rick Santorum) showed that all five cast identical votes on civil rights measures that include the Employment Nondiscrimination Act of 1996 and the Hate Crimes Expansion Act of 2000.
The reason the White House turned on Lott had little to do with distaste for the Mississippian's remarks at Thurmond's 100th birthday party; it moved only when it appeared the controversy might expose a penchant to play the race card when convenient. Bush, in trouble in the 2000 primaries, appeared at Bob Jones University, which lost its tax-exempt status for maintaining a policy that "students who date outside their own race will be expelled. …