Trent Lott: victim of a hate crime
12/19/2002 12:00:00 AM - Pat Buchanan
When the official autopsy is performed on the corpse of Trent
Lott, it will be revealed that he died of a stab wound that came from above.
This time, Caesar knifed Brutus.
Before a black audience in Philadelphia, Bush rose to declare in
piety and self-righteousness, "Recent comments by Sen. Lott do not reflect
the spirit of our country. He has apologized and rightly so. Every day that
America was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our ideals."
Thus did the president join those who had placed the most malign
construction on Lott's ill-chosen but innocent words of tribute to Strom
Thurmond and throw Lott, a loyalist who has hauled water for him for two
years on the Hill, to the wolves.
A controversy that had been fading away was resuscitated and
raised to world headlines. And with his own president declaring him a
shameful sinner, Trent Lott had to apologize and beg "forbearance and
forgiveness" of those who had sought to smear and destroy him.
Not only was Lott abandoned by his president and his old friend
Jack Kemp, he must have been even more disheartened at the sickening silence
of his Republican caucus. He was their leader, he was under savage attack,
and they never rode to the rescue.
Who came to Lott's defense? Robert Novak, Jesse Helms and Sen.
Paul Simon, an old-school liberal who was at Strom's birthday bash and saw
no more malice in Trent's tribute than did a dozen journalists who were
there and did not even report his remarks.
The joy on the Left is justified. Rarely has more damage been
done to a party by its enemies -- with less -- than was done last week and
this to the GOP.
Let us go back and revisit the exact words of Trent Lott at that
party for Sen. Thurmond. Said Lott:
"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."
Lott never used the word segregation, though it was instantly
inserted in stories and headlines. But what did Lott mean? Probably nothing.
But the least likely interpretation is that Lott, as majority leader,
consciously decided, then and there, to declare it would have been far
better for America if Strom had been elected because, then, America would
still be segregated!
Can any decent, fair or honorable man seriously argue that this
is precisely what Trent Lott meant to convey?
Yet this is the precise thought crime of which he is accused,
and for which President Bush said he rightly apologized. Ronald Reagan would
never have knifed a friend and ally like this, even if were he guilty! It is
a failing of the Bush family that they believe in loyalty up, but not
The consequences of this rout of the Republicans, due to their
own cowardice, are going to be sweeping.
The liberal establishment has the bit in its teeth. All the
momentum of November is gone. Republicans are going to be made to apologize
for their past racist sins, to grovel before the inquisition, to abandon any
and all plans to block the "civil rights" agenda of Sharpton, Jackson,
Daschle and Gore. They will be told to drop any thought of nominating
conservative Southern judges to U.S. courts. All efforts to overturn
affirmative action -- i.e., reverse discrimination -- are almost surely now
It is hard to see how Lott survives, or why he would want to.
His own president cut him dead and collaborated, almost surely at the
instigation of "Boy Genius" Karl Rove, with his assassins. And rather than
fight the false charges, Lott apologized four times and threw himself on the
mercy of a court that had convicted him, without evidence, of a thought
crime he did not commit. Now, he is asking forgiveness of the very enemies
he was elected to fight.
How does one now lead?
What should the president have said? A suggestion.
"Every day that America was segregated was a day that America
was unfaithful to our ideals. I believe that. Sen. Lott believes that. Sen.
Thurmond came to believe that. As for those who have maliciously and falsely
accused Sen. Lott of a statement he never made and a sentiment he never
expressed, they should stop dealing the race card from the bottom of the
Lott's enemies would have scattered like the jackals they are.
Now, with Bush's assist, they have horribly wounded his majority leader.
Trent Lott is the victim of a hate crime, not the perpetrator of one.