On Dec. 11, the Houston Chronicle was reporting that Family Research Council President Ken Connor was already urging GOP senators to withdraw support: "Sen. Lott's ill-considered remarks will only serve to reinforce the false stereotype that white conservatives are racists at heart. Republicans ought to ask themselves if they really want their party to continue to be represented by Trent Lott." William J. Bennett, Bill Kristol and Cal Thomas, among other conservative pundits, were similarly fast out of the box condemning Lott's remarks.
By Dec. 14, The Washington Post noted, "Lott Faces Continuing Resentment From Conservatives," crediting the early, stiff condemnations from National Review, Southern conservative newspapers and The Wall Street Journal, and columnists such as Peggy Noonan and Linda Chavez, for keeping the controversy alive. Black conservatives like Thomas Sowell and Deroy Murdock were particularly harsh.
"If the only people raising doubts were Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, this story would have died of its own weight," GOP pollster Whit Ayres told The Washington Post. "It's the anguish from conservatives that has kept the story going." And gave moral support and political cover to the Southern GOP senators who, in the end, decided Lott's political fate.
Of course, many other conservative voices disagreed, urging Republicans to circle the wagons around Lott. (The constipated gray lady managed to run a full story on the conservative split over Lott -- "Conservatives Are Differing Over Roles in Controversy" -- without working in a single quote from one of Lott's many voracious conservative critics.) But what is newsworthy is what is new. And what is new is the determination of Christian and other conservatives not to let politics trump decency.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.