Monday, December 23, 2002

The Republicans have performed another bit of brilliant politics, neatly removing Lott, who was relatively politically friendless and and lacking the political skills to operate as an effective Senate majority leader. They managed to do this by having their friends in the media make a big thing out of Lott's remarks, although these remarks were merely part of the racist politics that Lott and other Republicans (including, most noteably, Ashcroft) have been using for years to appeal to their white constituents, and this coded racism has always been ignored or suppressed by the press. When black leaders have complained about these remarks in the past, they have received only token press coverage. Suddenly, when it is convenient for the Bush junta to replace Lott, his remarks are splashed over all the media. The Democrats didn't know how to respond as they were fearful that any attack on Lott would be turned around on them by the partisan press, and because some of them are attempting to play the same racist game the Republicans play (but not nearly so well), and feared that making a big thing out of Lott's remarks would insult the white voters that Lott was indeed pandering to. The Republicans nearly won the 2000 Presidential election and did win the midterm elections by delivering coded messages to their racist white supporters while appearing to be acceptably non-racist to normal voters (and, I must say, the nominally non-racist voters, who would be aghast if you were to accuse them of having racist sympathies, play along with this charade, having the 'advantages' of voting for racist politicians while feeling smugly liberal in their personal views on race). I was absolutely amazed to see Clinton actually point this out, as recognizing this essential fact of contemporary politics has been one of the great taboos in American political life (if you even try to raise the issue, you are called a 'race-baiter'). When the Democrats, to their great credit, decided to do the right thing and denounce racism, they set in play the factors in U. S. politics that the Republicans, to their great shame, have taken advantage of ever since. What I really want to know is how Rove forced Lott out. The Republicans could always have picked another majority leader, but Lott had apparently threatened to resign his Senate seat. He would then have been replaced by a Democrat (as the Democratic governor of Mississippi would make the selection of the replacement), thus endangering the Republican's majority position - Cheney would have had to cast the deciding vote, and one defection would have transferred control back to the Democrats - and possibly ruining the legislative and judicial appointment plans of the junta. You would therefore think that Lott had a tremendous amount of leverage. He could have resigned his Senate seat and gone back to Mississippi as king of the crackers, and become a university president (I'm making the crazy assumption there are universities in Mississippi) or, even more prestigious, a right-wing talk show host. So what convinced him to become a mere lowly Senator, and give up his long and difficult - just think of the indignity of having to apologize to nigras - fight to stay? His statements indicate that he is very unhappy about what happened and seems to have become a bit of a conspiracy theorist (he said: "A lot of people in Washington have been trying to nail me for a long time . . . . I fell into their trap and so I have only myself to blame."). Did they offer to pay him money? Or did they tell him if he didn't follow their agenda he'd be wellstoned?