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November 15, 2006

Comments

I keep thinking that if only we had kept Trent Lott in as Majority Leader, we wouldn't have all these problems today.....

Life imitating art. I'm reminded that some years ago someone did a Ronald Reagan rap song:

"Okay, we're in a grove now!"
"That's groove, sir."

and

"Okay people ease on through
Rappin' Ron Reagan got cheese for you
Got a big civil service that'll hire your best
And a volunteer army that'll take the rest"

There are times, like now, I regret my memory.

Rap Master Ronnie

The G.O.P. is using a two pronged approach; the one mentioned in the original post, and faith based initiatives are the other.

Faith based initiatives, as they are used by the G.O.P., is a system of bribery using taxpayer dollars to convince congregation leaders to promote G.O.P. candidates, and to emphasize divisive issues that are supposedly a priority among conservatives.
As we have learned the divisiveness is the purpose, not the issues.

"Those quotes, and that platform, are exactly what Lott was talking about back in 2002."

How do you know? And what's different about people who know that smearing the troops was exactly what Kerry had in mind recently?

And what's different about people who know that smearing the troops was exactly what Kerry had in mind recently?

Kerry produced the written version of his speech which illustrated his verbal gaffe was a gaffe.

Maybe Lott elaborated on what he meant by "these problems". I dunno.

rilkefan: I wasn't talking about what Lott might or might not have had in mind; I was talking about what he actually said, which was: ":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."

Strom Thurmond ran on a segregationist platform, for a party that was formed in explicit opposition to Truman's civil rights initiatives in 1948. He said that he was proud of that vote, and that if others had "followed our lead", which I assume means "voted for Thurmond too", then "we wouldn't have had all these problems".

It's not mindreading to say that voting for someone who ran on a segregationist platform -- and for whose party that was the central issue, possibly the only one, and certainly the one the party was formed to promote -- is an act supporting segregation, and that to be proud of it all these years later, and to say things would have worked out better had that party won, is to say that it would have been better if segregation had prevailed. I have no idea what was in Lott's head -- I suspect the answer is 'nothing much; that's part of the problem' -- but that's what he actually said.

Maybe Lott elaborated on what he meant by "these problems". I dunno.

IIRC, Lott said he just wanted to say some kind words for an old man and that he could have said it differently (or something like that).

"I wasn't talking about what Lott might or might not have had in mind"

I know exactly what you were talking about.


"It's not mindreading to say that voting for someone who ran on a segregationist platform -- and for whose party that was the central issue, possibly the only one, and certainly the one the party was formed to promote -- is an act supporting segregation ..."

Irrelevant.


Who cares what Kerry intended - we know what he was talking about.

how do you know?

well, what do you think he was referring too - Thurmond's superior grasp of economic concepts or foreign policy maybe? Also note that veiled race-baiting has been the centerpoint of a republican strategy (southern) to win votes for decades, while it's rather hard to imagine that even Kerry would be so stupid to think that insulting the troops would be a great strategy to win over the electorate.

I think he's not a very deep guy and was praising one of the most successful and venerated representatives of his cultural group without consideration of the awful elements of his cultural legacy. But maybe he's actually in favor of segregation even today. I don't know, and I doubt anyone else does. I'm not arguing whether he said something dumb - I'm disputing that it's plain that there was abhorrent intent behind the statement. If there wasn't, the post as I read it does a disservice to the truth. On the subject, the tense of "praise" in "it might help to make sure your party doesn't elect people who praise flat-out segregationists to positions of leadership" does the same.

typo alert:

"heaven only knows how culturally conservative black ministers various GOP functionaries have met with"

I think syntax requires "how many". (I.e. the question is not "how could they do it?" but rather "how many did it?")

kb: right you are. Update on its way.

It wasn't that one comment that sunk Trent Lott. It was one of those iconic moments that brings into relief his history in the Deep South. Like George Allen's "macaca" comment, if it had been isolated, it would have passed; but it prompted a review of a couple decades of work and statements and associations.

It was an opportunity to review not only his, but the entire Republican party's, history against civil rights, and the "southern strategy." Lott was jettisoned at the time because Rove and Mehlmen were counting on peeling off African-American votes through faith-based initiatives, and Lott would have been a huge distraction.

That said, after sitting through the reign of the soulless Bill Frist and the ruthless Tom Delay, I have been nostalgic for Trent Lott. At the very least, Lott is one of those old-style Senators who treats his colleagues with a modicum of respect, knows when to go to the back room and cut the deal.

Not that McConnell is a "cut the deal" kind of Senator......

rilkefan, I believe in the principle of charity as much as the next guy but given that and precisely because we may never be able to determine the exact intent behind a statement (and that may apply to the speaker himself too) we have to rely on context and cicumstantial evidence, which in this case isn't exactly in Lott's favor, as hilzoy has pointed out above

So, rilkefan, nothing but Trent Lott coming right out and saying "If we'd maintained segregation, we wouldn't have had all these problems" would convince you that's what he meant? I give up.

Your accusation that Hilzoy's post "does a disservice to the truth" is ridiculous, pedantic, horseshit.

From Rilkefan:

"Those quotes, and that platform, are exactly what Lott was talking about back in 2002."

How do you know?

The entire reason for the formation of the political party on whose ticket Strom Thurmond ran for President was to oppose racial integation - how could saying that electing someone on a platform based entrely upon keeping non-whites "in their place" would have savedus from our modern social problems was at best anything but tragic ignorance of why Thurmond was running, and at worst an endorsement of the Dixiecrat platform?

BET interview with Lott here, if anyone's interested.

From the depths of hell, I stab at thee!

Prodigal: "The entire reason for the formation of the political party on whose ticket Strom Thurmond ran for President was to oppose racial integation"

Irrelevant.


Nell: "I give up."

It's about time.


novakant: "we have to rely on context and cicumstantial evidence, which in this case isn't exactly in Lott's favor, as hilzoy has pointed out above"

I agree with your point, but hilzoy doesn't weigh the evidence above.

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rilkefan: I weighed the context before I wrote the post. I also made sure that Lott's words had not been misreported, that Thurmond had in fact run, and lots of other things that I did not recount in the post.

Honestly: if someone said that it would have been better if Hitler had won, would we all be wondering whether that was actually an endorsement of anti-Semitism? Well, perhaps; but that's only because unlike Thurmond's party, Hitler had more than one issue. Someone might say that they wished Hitler had won because of his anti-Communist credentials, or his economic program. The States Rights Democratic Party, by contrast, was only about one thing.

I'd see your point if I had, in fact, speculated about what Lott was thinking. But I quite deliberately didn't.

"The points are well-taken and the wording is easy to follow."

If he does say so himself.

Also, he's extremely modest.

"H. Lewis Smith has studied the idioms, meanings and the psychological impact of words...."

He needs to study more, when he's completing sentences such as that with phrases such as "its energy and vibratory effects on the human mind" and writing sentences that end in ALL CAPS AND MULTIPLE EXCLAMATIONS POINTS!!!

Congratulations on producing a "culturally divided book," though; I've never read one of those.

Also, sexist language alert: "newsmen." Or maybe it's a lousy book for newswomen. Your call.

(I'm just passing through, folks, while waiting for Better Health and Longer Attention Span; back when some modicum is achieved.)

hilzoy: "but that's only because unlike Thurmond's party, Hitler had more than one issue."

Irrelevant or question-begging, your pick.


"If I had, in fact, speculated about what Lott was thinking."

You didn't speculate, you came right out and asserted ("That's exactly what Lott thinks [...]"). Otherwise you're claiming that your post is about a string of sounds that issued from Lott's mouth which magically talk about some other strings, all this free-floating from Slart's link, and somehow turning the less-exciting "praised" to "praise".

I know exactly what you were talking about, even if you don't. See here.

Gary, hurry back - I at least am unashamed to participate with a gnat's-ass-attention-span...

I dunno, I think rilkefan has a point and shouldn't get piled on (I do think that it could have been made a bit less sharply though)

My folks are solid dems, but my mom voted for Lott in the past (I'm not sure how she voted this time, discussions of voting are not something to be done over Skype, methinks), based on how responsive he was to the constituent's (ie her) needs. Admittedly, that last time was 2000, which was another era, and also underlines the 50 state strategy (because if you don't have a plausible candidate, it becomes merely an empty protest vote) As someone who thinks that Murtha's problems with Abscam deserve to be set aside, it would be hypocritical to jump on Lott with both feet (one foot maybe, but not both feet) One could argue that Lott's comments were more recent, and therefore more deserving of approbrium, but I have to wonder if Lott had remained in place in the Senate, rather than Frist and his national ambitions, we might have had a bit more pushback against some of the worst aspects of this admin. In fact, Bush's weighing in may have sunk Lott, and looked at in hindsight, the purpose might have been to neuter the Senate. One has to ask, is it worth it to let an insensitive remark off the hook, especially when if it had reduced by even a small portion the moves of this admin?

and therefore more deserving of approbrium,


or opprobrium, even

(good to see you, Gary)

Did Lott vote against any of the worst aspects of this administration?

Fair point, KC, but that imagines that votes are floating around as perfect examples of free will. How many Dems voted for some of the worst aspects of this administration? Perhaps it is just me, but I would have someone who has (within limits, of course) sinned and realized that he isn't perfect than someone who doesn't realize he is capable of sin (which is a pretty good sketch of the differences between Lott and Frist, I think)

OT: Jon Henke redbaits Jim Webb, labelling the populist economic views expressed in Webb's recent WSJ op-ed "Folk Marxism".

Fair and balanced even after the bitter end.

Wait a winute, I thought Webb was supposed to be one of the examples of how the Democrats only won by nominating candidates who were really Republicans.

From mattbastard's link:

WEBB WRITES: "America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years."

RESPONSE: "Infinitely"? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

WEBB WRITES: "It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country."

RESPONSE: "literally"? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

No shrinking violet Jon Henke in the continuing War On Metaphor.

It's all just a string of actually non-responsive responses. Does Henke have a substantive argument to make regarding Webb's comments on the rich and the upper classes not joining the military -- even out of a sense of noblesse oblige -- like they used to? No. He makes a snarky comment about the draft.

What a yutz. Why are these people considered serious thinkers of any kind, and how do they get jobs working with major campaigns? Is "I know you are but what am I?" really the best we can hope for in politics anymore?

KCinDC:

Wait a winute, I thought Webb was supposed to be one of the examples of how the Democrats only won by nominating candidates who were really Republicans.

Apparently there's at least one Commie mole within the ranks of the new pseudo-GOP.

Phil: Well, I must say I'm not surprised, coming from someone who lauded George Allen for 'his "libertarian, trusting, free-people approach", his "Common Sense Jeffersonian Conservative Principles" and his Reaganesque belief in libertarian ideals'.

I have no hope left.

I think Jon Tester is another mole, and Sherrod Brown certainly would be, except that I think his GOP costume must have been lost in the mail.

I thought the best part of Webb's piece was when he noticed that the rich live in literally another country because they send their children to private schools.

Congress, heal thyself.

KCinDC: Brown needs to make an appointment with Tester's barber. Nothing says 'Grand Old Party' quite like a flattop.

rilkefan: I hate to ask this, but do you actually have a point here beyond general contrarianism? Because I sure as hell can't see it.

Sebastian, he said considerably more than that the rich send their kids to private school. He also mentioned things like military service, access to healthcare, and even the quality of essentials such as food, water and air.

He was referring to the gilded lifestyle that enables the rich to have no contact whatsoever with the rest of the country, to therefore be untouched by and unconcerned about happens to the rest of the country, and as a consequence be interested only in maintaining their own privilege. He likened the current class divide to the one which existed in the late 19th Century, and he's not far off.

The biggest substantive difference between now and then is that now there are laws regulating (for example) child labor, unsafe working conditions, and how long, in hours, the workweek can be.

And, indeed, I don't know where Jim Webb's son went to school, but unlike essentially all 534 other voting members of Congress, his son is carrying a rifle in the Middle East right now. So the Webb family, at least, walks the walk.

His victory announcement and rally, btw, was held 5 floors directly beneath my office window. It was great looking out at the crowd from my desk.

Anarch, I think the post is mindreading, one-sided, and at one point (no doubt unintentionally) a smear, hence unfair to a political opponent of ours; all things that annoy me and provoke me to comment. I think those things are quite clear, and so when they were denied I commented further. And note that I had a simple counterexample on our side which has gone ignored.

Also, if it had been say a Kevin Drum post I would have said to myself, "Guess he's in a knee-jerk partisan mood" and ignored it, but given the byline I thought it necessary to comment.

There was a recent thread where hilzoy made the simple point that Saddam was a bad guy and got jumped on to the tune of several updates; perhaps that would have been a good opportunity to complain about contrarianism. Also you might want to take the argument up with lj.


Incidentally, in my understanding of English "you know what I'm talking about" is idiomatic for "you get my meaning". If people disagree with that I ought to be informed.

I think the post is mindreading, one-sided, and at one point (no doubt unintentionally) a smear, hence unfair to a political opponent of ours

That you think it mind-reading and one-sided I took as read; why you think it mind-reading and one-sided is what I fail to understand. I'm aware that there are other possible interpretations of what Lott might have conceivably meant by his remarks. I haven't yet heard any plausible alternative interpretations as yet. Among other things, I'm not convinced of the irrelevancy of (sole) platform of the Segregation Party, your repeated declarations of same notwithstanding.

And note that I had a simple counterexample on our side which has gone ignored.

The post immediately following your counterexample begs to differ.

There was a recent thread where hilzoy made the simple point that Saddam was a bad guy and got jumped on to the tune of several updates; perhaps that would have been a good opportunity to complain about contrarianism.

Perhaps if I'd had reliable internet access and hadn't been in the middle of rewriting a key section of my thesis I might've been so inclined. As it was, IIRC all the updates had been made and gone cold long before I ever had a chance to read, let alone respond to, that thread.

Also you might want to take the argument up with lj.

Not especially, no. Partly out of indifference, mainly out of laziness (or at least a desire to expend my cognitive efforts on things more directly related to getting my dang degree).

"That you think it mind-reading and one-sided I took as read"

Then you're saying I'm wrong - v. different from contrary. Again - I don't see why he had to have any particular line of thought in his mind beyond free-floating praise, and there's a long record of him saying his remarks came across awfully and didn't express his opinion, and I think he has a reasonable cultural explanation for his somewhat racist past and his claimed nuanced view of Thurmond. I wouldn't choose Lott for a leadership position on this and other grounds - unless he was up against one of the people I get a scary vibe from (George Allen comes to mind in the context) - but still. And anyway, if I understand correctly hilzoy says the post isn't about what he was thinking, so it shouldn't even matter if there's another explanation or not.

Good point about the Kerry issue - I'd argue with the reply but no doubt I'm getting tiresome.

Please ignore the quibble about the other thread, thought you had been around more than me.

Wonder what Noonan has to say now.

rilkefan: no doubt I'm getting tiresome.

Also you might want to take the argument up with lj.

Sorry, what is it I'm supposed to be arguing about?

Prodigal: "The entire reason for the formation of the political party on whose ticket Strom Thurmond ran for President was to oppose racial integation"

Irrelevant.

Not if one has any interest whatsoever in the truth of the matter, Rilkefan.

"Not if one has any interest whatsoever in the truth of the matter, Rilkefan."

Question-begging. Also failure to understand elementary argument, but I guess I can't hold that against you.

"Question-begging. Also failure to understand elementary argument, but I guess I can't hold that against you"

Condescending as all get out. Also bringing back bad memories of my not-brief-enough membership in high school debate club, but I guess I can't totally hold that against him.

liberal japonicus: but my mom voted for Lott in the past

Did your mom vote for Lott in 1948, when Lott ran for the States Rights Democratic Party?

Katherine, please reread the comment I replied to in the thread context - it's not deserving of a nicer reply, is it?

Jeepers creepers - I argue above in what seem to me entirely clear terms that "A ran on platform P, B praised A, B praised platform P" is just not a syllogism: B may have had other reasons to praise A than P. Then someone insists "But A ran on P!". It's perfectly sensible to argue about whether B could possibly have had other reasons, as Anarch does above. It's not reasonable to repeat the price of tea in China as if it were relevant.

In any case, maybe lj will argue this point further for me in the unlikely event anyone cares - apparently I'm not able to.

Not trying to pile on, but I think the problem is in the "problem"

A ran on platform P.
B said by electing A we would have avoided lots of problems (unspecified).
B thinks platform P would have solved some problems.


I think Lotts problem was that he didn't specify what problems he thought would have been avoided had only the rest of the nation voted for a racist.

Whatever could have he meant? No one can know. Maybe he shouldn't have picked a presidential run based on racism for his free floating praise. But he did. Now we will never know what he thought about that racist presidential platform. Other than that he once said it could have solved some problems.

Rilkefan: it's not deserving of a nicer reply, is it?

Given that Prodigal's point left you in a hole where you had no option but to either admit you were wrong or get abusive, I suppose not.

Pascal: I think Lotts problem was that he didn't specify what problems he thought would have been avoided had only the rest of the nation voted for a racist.

Or rather, had only the rest of the nation voted for segregation.

We already know what kind of "problems" racists think are "avoided" by segregation.

Did your mom vote for Lott in 1948, when Lott ran for the States Rights Democratic Party?

Well, since my Mom was a 12 year old in Stockton on Tees at the time, I don't think so. But given that Lott was 7 years old in 1948, I don't think he was running. ;^)

I guess rf wants me to argue his side, though I would point out that while I made basically the same point, I didn't imply it was a problem of the people opposing Lott, it was a personal reflection. I do think people need time and space to change, and it isn't always the best strategy to drag people by their entrails when they make a gaffe, which is the part of what rf says that I agree with, but, as I said, I felt the point was made altogether too sharply. I think people have a right to get angry about Lott's gaffe and if enough people are moved to anger by an honest statement of what happened, well, that's life. It's only when people are moved to anger by twisted facts that I get a bit bent out of shape.

Jes's last comment seems to imply that racism only existed in the deep south, and one of the things that I find problematic is the notion that Northerners are so much more enlightened than Southerners that it was manifestly clear that the institutional racism was so clearly wrong that they renounced it forever, leaving the neanderthals in the South to do what they would. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as the case of sundown towns indicates, and this webpage about the Quakers and the institutions of racial segregation is another example. A slightly different example of how Quaker generosity led to the furthering of segregation is given here. Even acts imbued with good intentions can have negative effects.

lj: Well, since my Mom was a 12 year old in Stockton on Tees at the time, I don't think so. But given that Lott was 7 years old in 1948, I don't think he was running. ;^)

D'oh! I muddled Lott with Thurmond. Pre-coffee mistake. :-(

Jes's last comment seems to imply that racism only existed in the deep south

I didn't intend that implication. I don't recall who said it, but someone noted that in the South "they don't care how close you get, so long as you don't get too big, and in the North they don't care how big you get, so long as you don't get too close". Different expressions of racism, rather than no racism at all. I'm familiar in the UK with the polite forms of racism, where a racist B&B owner will politely assure a black person that they have no vacancies at all, terribly sorry - as well as with the aggressive forms of racism, calling names after people on the street, beating them up, killing them.

But my comment stands: we already know what kind of "problems" racists think are "avoided" by segregation. To acknowledge how racism is expressed in one area is not to imply that racism does not exist in another area.

rilkefan: ""A ran on platform P, B praised A, B praised platform P" is just not a syllogism."

I was taking this: (B said that his state voted for A (running on P), and "we" (not they) "are" (not were) proud of that vote, and that had A, running on platform P won, "we wouldn't have had all these problems") -- to be not just "praise of A" (as though Lott had e.g. praised Thurmond's taste in clothing, or his golf game), but a statement that Lott and his state were proud of voting for A when A ran on P, and that had A prevailed and P been enacted, "we wouldn't have had all these problems". In which case, construing it as 'praise for P' isn't far-fetched at all.

I mean, there are other interpretations -- perhaps Lott meant that Thurmond was so much better than Truman as a leader -- better instincts, better judgment -- that the benefits of having him in power would have outweighed the problems with the platform he ran on -- but frankly I think they're a stretch.

RF, "B praised A" is too vague and omits important information from "B said 'When A 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.'" I don't see how the platform A ran on can be irrelevant. At the very least, viewing the platform as relevant isn't an elementary logic error.

Oh, I see Hilzoy was already making that point when I was writing, and of course made it better.

hilzoy: "I mean, there are other interpretations -- perhaps Lott meant that Thurmond was so much better than Truman as a leader -- better instincts, better judgment -- that the benefits of having him in power would have outweighed the problems with the platform he ran on -- but frankly I think they're a stretch."

Fine, then I think I've carried my point.


KC, I can either say Socrates isn't a man, or I can say the proposition is badly formed. I was arguing the latter. It's irrelevant that Socrates is a man.

Question-begging. Also failure to understand elementary argument...You're wrong in both cases, Rilkefan. The entire point of the formation of the Dixiecrat party was to uphold racial segregation. They may have tried to pretty it up with fancy language, but the entirety of their existence as aparty was institutional racism. Saying that someone's claim that had a person who ran on a platform that called for upholding segregation would have prevented us from having "all these problems today" is, in the absence of the speaker supplying a list of problems that don't have anything to do with race, leaves no logical conclusion other than that the speaker is endorsing the platform that Thurmond ran under. Elementary logic, my not-so-dear Watson.

Reposted, to fix the tags:

Question-begging. Also failure to understand elementary argument...
You're wrong in both cases, Rilkefan. The entire point of the formation of the Dixiecrat party was to uphold racial segregation. They may have tried to pretty it up with fancy language, but the entirety of their existence as aparty was institutional racism. Saying that someone's claim that had a person who ran on a platform that called for upholding segregation would have prevented us from having "all these problems today" is, in the absence of the speaker supplying a list of problems that don't have anything to do with race, leaves no logical conclusion other than that the speaker is endorsing the platform that Thurmond ran under. Elementary logic, my not-so-dear Watson.

James Taranto, Best of the Web:

Some argued that the GOP would have been better off dumping the Boehner-Blunt "old guard" in favor of the "reformists" Pence and Shadegg. But hey, who better to lead the GOP minority than the men who helped create it?

Zing!

Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings.

Oh, snap!

Otoh, if Gary were around, I wouldn't be surprised if he noted that zinger was older than the Republic.

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