View Full Version : Trent Lott's racist comment
12-12-2002, 10:23 AM
Trent Lott made a comment at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party that if Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948 (he was running as an old-time racist) we wouldn't be having most of the "troubles" we're having now. Apparently he also made almost exactly the same comment in a speech in 1980. So what should happen to Mr. Lott?
12-12-2002, 10:49 AM
Which "troubles" was he referring to?
Apparently, this isn't the first time he's made such comments. At the very least, he's stupid. He shouldn't be Majority Leader. As for his seat, as an America, he's entitled to his opinion. It's up to his constituents to vote him out next election, if they don't agree with his comments (and I'm sure his opponents from both parties will make sure they're not forgotten come election time.)
12-12-2002, 08:21 PM
PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 12) - President Bush, in a stinging rebuke of a fellow Republican, said Thursday it was offensive and wrong for Senate Republican leader Trent Lott to say it would have been better if Strom Thurmond, a segregationist, had won the U.S. presidency in 1948.
While the president sought to distance himself and his party from the top Senate Republican's comments, the White House said Bush did not think Lott should step aside, as some Democrats and civil rights groups have demanded.
''Any suggestion that a segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong,'' Bush said to loud and long applause in a speech about his faith-based agenda.
''Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country,'' Bush said, speaking forcefully and heatedly to a mixed-race crowd that gave him a standing ovation. His face twitched with emotion as he spoke.
''He (Lott) has apologized and rightly so. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals,'' Bush said. He added the Republican party shared those ideals, of ''equal dignity and equal rights of every American.''
It was highly unusual criticism by Bush of a fellow Republican, particularly at a time when Lott was poised to become Senate majority leader after Republicans took control of the Senate in mid-term elections in November.
The flap has been an embarrassment for Republicans as they try to attract minorities, who traditionally vote Democratic, and prepare to push a conservative agenda in Congress.
White House political guru Karl Rove played an active role in Bush's decision to speak out on Thursday, an administration official said. But White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush's comments reflected his own views.
A White House official and a fellow Republican senator said Bush wanted to make clear the Republican party did not stand for ideas reflected in Lott's remarks.
PRESSURE TO RESIGN
Fleischer said after the speech Bush that was not calling for Lott to step aside as leader or as senator. ''The president does not think that Sen. Lott needs to resign,'' he said.
Lott, a Mississippi Republican, has twice apologized for comments he made a week ago during a 100th birthday tribute to Sen. Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina Republican who ran as a third-party candidate for president in 1948 as a segregationist. In 1948 most blacks in many southern U.S. states, including Mississippi, were not allowed to vote.
Senior Senate Republican leadership aides said Lott believed he could survive politically despite Democratic demands he withdraw as Republican leader.
Shortly after the speech, Lott called Bush, and his office issued a statement saying the president was right.
''Senator Lott agrees with President Bush that his words were wrong and he is sorry,'' said Lott spokesman Ron Bonjean. ''He repudiates segregation because it is immoral.''
Lott expressed similar sentiments in his call to Bush, Fleischer said.
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican who traveled to Philadelphia with Bush, said the president had given Lott advance notice of his statement.
''My sense is that the president did Trent Lott a big favor today,'' Santorum said. ''It was important to clear the air and I think he did so with an exclamation point.''
ROUND OF APOLOGIES
In his remarks last week, Lott noted his home state of Mississippi voted for Thurmond in 1948.
''We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years,'' he said.
In a round of apologies this week, he admitted the comment could be seen as offensive and asked for forgiveness.
''I'm sorry for my words,'' said Lott, who has said he would not step aside as Senate Republican leader. Speaking to WABC radio in New York on Wednesday, Lott said he had wanted to honor ''Thurmond the man'' but not back segregationist policies.
The Congressional Black Caucus called for a formal censure of Lott, saying anything less would be seen as approval of his remarks by Bush, Congress and the Republican party.
In Lott's home state, civil rights officials said his apology was insufficient, and accused him of having enduring ties to groups that are believed to have racist views.
Time magazine reported on its Internet site on Thursday that while attending the University of Mississippi in the 1960s, Lott helped lead a fight against integrating his national fraternity, Sigma Nu. The report also quoted Lott as acknowledging in 1997 that he had favored segregation during his last year at the university but no longer did.
Several major U.S. newspapers on Thursday published editorials demanding Republicans reject Lott as their Senate leader. Lott was re-elected to his leadership post without opposition last month.
Reuters 18:57 12-12-02
12-12-2002, 09:21 PM
More than anything, Lott's comment is a huge public relations embarrassment. Corporate interests in this country receive billions of dollars from wealthy non-white investors. It's unacceptable for a US representative to embrace an idea that would have essentially prevented non-whites from actively participating socially and economically in this country.
12-12-2002, 11:11 PM
algores dad was a segregationist
no one ever ask clinton to resign when he said black people watch tv like normal people
does algore actually fear strom thurmond running for president?
robert byrd (Dem. WV) known KKK member. Remember the interview last
year when he used the "N" word?
Jesse Jackson and his "hymie town" comments!
bill clinton stating that Sen Fulbright (a devout segragationist) was the best thing to happen to Arkansas.
algore never rebuked his Fathers multiple votes "AGAINST" the Equal Rights
never mind the war or economy lets declare war on the republicans, is there any wonder why democrats are losing
"never mind the war or economy lets declare war on the republicans, is there any wonder why democrats are losing"
I agree that this is all just people playing politics and no big deal. However I think it's a key part of Democratic Strategy to differentiate themselves from the Republican party. Part of the reason they lost the last election was because they pretty much stood with Bush for a long time after 9/11 while not differentiating themselves at all. Sufficient time has passed now that they feel "safe" enough to start fighting & criticizing Bush again.
wrong mko. that is exactly the problem with democrats. attack attack attack. even if republicans do something good, attack attack attack. they act like kids. example, bush has 2 blacks in the inner circle. democrats attack as tokens. had bush not picked 2 blacks, then he is a bigot. just like spoiled brats. if democrats can't change their silly ways, expect more trouble in the democratic party.
DA my point was only this: after 9/11 there was virtually full and unanimous support for Bush from everyone. Sufficient time has passed now that things are more back to normal and the usual game of politics continues.
All parties attack & criticize the other party. Have you forgotten the intensity of Ken Star & all that crap? It goes two ways.
mko...after 9-11 democrats blamed bush and said he knew this would happen and allowed it to happen.
12-13-2002, 05:39 PM
But oh the double standards.A stupid comment said off the cuff that definitly deserves an apology but not all this.He may need to resign if the press and democrats keep pushing it.The press can make or brake anyone they want to.
12-13-2002, 07:03 PM
One of the first people to publicly comment after Lott's remark was Tom Daschele, who said that he felt that Lott is a good man and that he didn't feel that the comment was meant seriously. Most of the heat that Lott has been taking has come from blacks who do not hold political office and Lott's fellow republicans. The democrats in congress have said NEXT TO NOTHING about this situation at all. I don't know what planet some of you guys are from, but why don't you follow the news and get your information straight, for pete's sake!
[This message was edited by ghoti on Dec 13, 2002 at 10:12 PM.]
12-14-2002, 01:18 AM
The question should be why is someone still in an elected position with these views and judging by what I have seen on the television why do you elect someone who has been there more than 50 years?
Haven't you got anyone better!!
Andrew http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/confused.gif http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/eek.gif
"You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down"
12-14-2002, 04:13 AM
looks like democrats out number republicans here.
its true the press can make or break anyone, that jimmy the greek sportscaster lost his job for repeating what he read in sports illustrated, why didnt they ban the magazine to?
12-14-2002, 01:58 PM
Thanks for the warning mike but it isn't necessary.
I just think alot of your post about politics are repetitive, especially your rants about Bush. Is your tape-recorder broke? http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif
12-18-2002, 08:44 AM
"You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today"1980
"Look at the cost involved with the Martin Luther King holiday and the fact we have not done it for alot of the other people that were more deserving, I just think it is basically wrong"1984
"The spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican platform"1984
"The people in this roomstand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Lets take it in the right direction, and our children will be the beneficiaries"1992
"Yes you could say I favored sgregation then (1962) . Idont know. The main thing was, I felt the federal government had no business sending in troops to tell the state what to do." 1997
"I've said things and done things on race related issues that weren't intended to be hurtful but that I now realize were hurtful." Last week
...act like a survivor not a victim.
good points pats.
sen. byrd was a kkk member and use the N word last year to describe blacks...no protest because he is a democrat.
another democrat sen. went to africa and call those ppl little monkeys...again, silences.
good hate and bad hate...go figure.
In the year 2002 the Senate Majority Leader said the country would be better if segregation was here today. I am a Republican who realizes that Trent Lott's comments typified the southern good ole boy network. America is not better off with a two-class system for its citizens.
For a man in his position as a political leader this remark or reminiscing is totally unacceptable. His power and influence has been affected and he can no longer lead the Republican Party without this hanging over the party's head. He has tainted it and it cannot be untainted.
From a pragmatic point of view at the very least he must resign as majority leader and I imagine he will not seek office in the Senate again, if he does not resign (very doubtful) before his term expires. But oh, what irony it would be!
no irony cris. if lott resign senate seat, democratic governor of that state will appoint a democrat to replace him. resulting in a 50/50 senate. a huge win for democrats therefore they must continue the flaming.
Aren't the Republicans meeting January 6th to determine Lott's fate? I think the Democrats have been surprisingly quiet; it's his own party trying to get rid of him. Little Bush and his administration have 'flamed' Lott for his comments and the GOP is willing to have the 50/50 Senate split in order to get rid of him. I don't think they like him. Democrats can just sit there and do nothing(I'm leaving the Democrats wide open for attack here) and Lott will be put out to pasture by his own party.
In case anybody cares, I was one of the most politically ignorant people in the U.S. before the accident. Since then, I've become anti-Republican just because of their stance on ESC. Purely selfish reasons I know, but that's my explanation for siding with the jackasses. I'll never consider myself a liberal...
Byrd actually used the word to describe certain whites, and also doesn't deserve to be a majority or minority leader.
12-18-2002, 07:56 PM
I think most of the Democrats are confused. It would have been very easy to take shots at Lott had none of the Republicans been so critical. But since the Republicans have been so critical, any comments by Democrats would only look like they are again agreeing with the Republicans and they have had a hard enough time distinguishing themselves since 911. This White House plays politics on every occasion and President Rove, I mean Bush, looks to have Clintonesque type skills.
I really expected Lott to have resigned by now, but he does hold the ace in the hole if he decides to resign and have a 50-50 split senate. John McCain then becomes almost as powerful as president and will be the swing man for any legislation.
12-20-2002, 10:09 AM
WASHINGTON (Dec. 20) - Bowing to harsh criticism from fellow senators and the Bush White House, Trent Lott resigned as Senate Republican leader Friday after colleagues worried about the repercussions of his racially insensitive remarks openly lined up behind Sen. Bill Frist.
''In the interest of pursuing the best possible agenda for the future of our country, I will not seek to remain as majority leader of the United States Senate for the 108th Congress, effective Jan. 6, 2003,'' said Lott, whose fall was historically unprecedented on Capitol Hill.
With Lott's departure, the only declared candidate for his post so far has been Frist, a close ally of President Bush. Frist, who made his candidacy known Thursday evening, had garnered public support from several senators before Lott announced his decision.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a Lott supporter who colleagues said was interested in the No. 1 job if Lott stepped aside, issued a statement saying he would not seek the job. He endorsed Frist instead.
''Now is the time to move forward. It is my belief that Sen. Bill Frist is the right man at the right time to help our party do so and I will support him for majority leader,'' he said.
But GOP aides also said a challenge seemed to be brewing from Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who also had been supporting Lott.
''He's testing the waters right now. He is speaking to his colleagues right now, and it looks like he might run,'' said one Republican familiar with Santorum's thinking.
Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, the No. 2 Senate Republican and longtime Lott rival, praised Lott's decision and said he would back Frist.
''He will provide the leadership necessary to bring Senate Republicans together and move us forward,'' said Nickles, who was the first GOP senator to call for new leadership elections.
The 51 GOP senators who will serve in the next Congress plan to meet Jan. 6 to decide who their next leader will be.
Lott became the first Senate leader ever to step down because of controversy, said Senate Historian Don Ritchie said. ''We've never had a Senate Republican leader or Senate Democratic leader step down like this before,'' he said.
Lott's methodical resignation - a terse statement released from the office of Senate Republican leader here - culminated a weeks-long controversy over Lott's racially insensitive comments.
His decision amounted to a 180-degree about-face.
Earlier this week, Lott had vowed to stay and fight to keep the top leadership job. His fall followed a tribute that Lott gave earlier this month at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.
The Mississippian at the time hailed the venerable South Carolinian and said he thought the nation would have been better off if Thurmond had won his campaign for the presidency in 1948. Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat at the time, on a mostly segregationist platform.
Senior Republicans said Lott's decision caught many senior White House officials by surprise, including top political adviser Karl Rove and political director Ken Mehlman, who were not given advance notice by Lott's office. As Lott's decision leaked to news organizations, his office informed the White House that the senator was leaving his leadership post but not the Senate.
Despite speculation that Lott would demand a committee chairmanship or some other consolation prize, he stepped down with no strings attached, one official said the White House was told.
Lott, 61, has been the Senate GOP leader since 1996, when Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., left the Senate to devote full time to his unsuccessful presidential bid.
At the Thurmond birthday party, Lott said: ''I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either.''
The remarks drew immediate criticism from black leaders and Democrats. They were quickly joined by conservatives worried that the comments would create a distracting firestorm that would harm the White House's and GOP's efforts to advance their legislative agenda.
Incoming House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that Lott's stepping down was an ''important step'' but that Republicans still needed to do more to address the issue of race.
While Lott initially attempted to stomp out the controversy with a terse press release and telephone interviews on radio and television, it began to spin out of control after Bush issued a forceful denunciation of his remarks last week.
Hours before Lott's announcement, veteran Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., reversed field and endorsed Frist after initially saying he would stand behind Lott.
Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., said he had told Lott in a telephone conversation Thursday that he thought a change was necessary.
''I concluded that the current controversy has completely overshadowed our efforts to expand the American dream to all Americans. This is unacceptable,'' Bond said.
One senator who has spoken to Frist cautioned that Frist's candidacy could be hurt by a perception that he may be too close to the White House.
''They don't want a senator who's a yes man for the president and Rove over here,'' said the senator, referring to Rove.
Until now, Republican lawmakers, aides and lobbyists had said Frist was reluctant to seek the job. Besides being a political lightning rod for attacks by Democrats, the post would be extremely time-consuming, taking away from his pursuit of health issues and, perhaps, preparations for a White House run in 2008.
Senate leadership elections, conducted by secret ballot, are notoriously unpredictable affairs in which promised votes fail to materialize and lawmakers' decisions are based on personal relationships, past conflicts and any number of unpredictable factors.
Bill Frist is some kind of trauma or transplant surgeon.
He is probably a big reason why Bush allowed ANY stem cell research at all.
I would hope this is a good sign for us... and science in general.
12-21-2002, 11:37 AM
Forty-five little words, Trent Lott to Strom Thurmond, Dec. 5, now forbidden: I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.
And so the senator with the perfect hair, who craves order, who re-presses his laundered shirts, found there was no way to make this thing neat. In the end, Trent Lott was simply the victim of a moment that many people, in and out of public life, are still struggling to understand.
"I thought this might be a one- or two-day story," said Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), "but it really grew and took hold of the country."
The story is about both the past and the present. Forty-five little words summoned an era that many Americans had largely forgotten or never known, and those same words have now redefined what's permissible to say today, at least by a leader in the national government.
The conversation about race in America has always been awkward or charged or just plain uncomfortable. In the vast, broadening American mosaic, honest dialogue is rare, and rarer still in public. The talk zigs and zags, from booming voices to silence. Every now and then there is a grand confrontation, some boiling controversy in which the nation owns up to truths about what it was and what it has become.
How is it that a Senate leader's bumbling tribute to a 100-year-old colleague, what he thought was just party banter, mushroomed into a moment like this?
Several years ago, Lott was caught up in a storm over his ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, which promotes the preservation of the white race. There were many news stories; Lott ducked and dodged and ignored. On March 11, 1999, Tom Cosgrove, a Democratic consultant, filed a complaint with the Senate ethics committee, accusing Lott of conduct unbecoming a U.S. senator. The committee dismissed the complaint in five days, Lott's colleagues remained mum, and Lott explained his way out of that mess.
But not this time.
"I think this is actually important," said Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy. "It lays down a marker for the parameters of acceptable sentiment and opinion. Okay, are there people who believe the same thing as Lott and simply won't say it? Sure. And that's okay, too. But it's important that certain things are made verboten in electoral politics."
As Kennedy observed, "the history of racism is a complicated story. We have lots of work to do. The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of folks who don't know who the Dixiecrats are. This is one of those things that turned into a real episode of public education. A lot of people didn't know Strom had run for president in '48 on a segregationist platform."
What was it like in 1948?
Negroes made up half the population of Lott's state. Their governor, Fielding Wright, told them: "If any of you have become so deluded as to want to enter our white schools, patronize our hotels and cafes, enjoy social equality with the whites, then true kindness and sympathy requires me to advise you to make your homes in some other state." Thurmond got 109,133 votes in this Mississippi.
This is what passed for racial progress then: From 1945 to 1949, only 13 lynchings were recorded in the nation, compared with 519 recorded from 1900 to 1904.
Now, there is racial progress that was unimaginable back then: The previously white worlds of golf, finance and national security have been penetrated. In Lott's Mississippi, 27 percent of homeowners are black, more than three times the national average. And the state boasts 45 black state legislators, the second-largest black contingent in the nation.
When Lawrence Guyot observes this moment, he thinks of where he has been. In the 1960s, Guyot was chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, an organizer of civil rights demonstrations, a man beaten and jailed and threatened with death by the Ku Klux Klan. The passing of time doesn't dull the memories.
"Lott stepping down vindicates our struggle to bring the federal government into our fight against people like Strom Thurmond," said Guyot, now an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the LeDroit Park community. "Lott's statement did more to galvanize the realism of racism and its pervasiveness in American politics.
"This is clearly a victory," he added, "but it is a small part of a much larger battle. This should be the beginning of an open national discussion on race."
But will it be?
Out in workaday America, there's a muddled picture about what the moment means.
"It's a huge sigh of relief that some of the worst of our history are finally in the trash can," said Clark Wolf, 51, a restaurant consultant in New York. "The country is really ready to put a lot of stuff behind it. Even some people who 10 or 15 years ago were separatist or racist have gotten over it."
But two hours after Lott stepped down, as the talk shows kicked into high gear and the cable news programs issued breathless updates, most of the people who pulled into an Exxon station in the Florida resort of Marco Island responded to his name with blank stares.
"Who's that? Never heard of him," said Alexander de Rivero, 20, an artist who lives and paints on Marco Island. "Politics doesn't interest me."
Hardly anyone who pulled into the station over a one-hour period said they'd heard of the erstwhile majority leader. One exception was a neo-segregationist dentist who did not want to give his name. He said he agreed with Lott that the country would have been better off if Thurmond had been elected president. "He was partly right, so why can't you say that?" the man said.
Bob MacDonald, 55, an interior designer, summed up the controversy as a trivial distraction. "The country is falling apart, and we're worried about one little statement," he said.
Terri Johnson is executive director of Chicago's Human Relations Foundation, which examines systemic and institutional racism with an eye on eradicating it. The Lott controversy was interesting, she said, because it joined two constituencies who seldom see eye to eye: the old civil rights community and conservatives.
"The debate shows that we have effectively made it not okay to be a racist. But it's very narrow. It's a Bull Connor definition of what a racist is," said Johnson, an African American. "What is harder is to get people to think about the day-to-day indignities, the daily dividing lines that separate us."
She was not confident that the incident would have any lasting impact. "The reason we have yet to address racism is that we only deal with it in a crisis," Johnson said. "My concern is that him stepping down will, for many people, be the end."