December 10, 2002
FOLLOWING INSTAPUNDIT'S LEAD, Paul Krugman is all over Trent Lott today. Krugman can't resist adding a dig about liberal media bias by noting that the liberal mainstream press was slow to pick up on the story, but his column doesn't mention that the non-liberal non-mainstream was pretty damned quick.
Quite a few readers suspect that Dems didn't want to make too big a deal out of this because (1) if Lott steps down, they lose an issue for the next election; and (2) Lott's well-established ineffectiveness as majority leader is an asset to the Democrats. Me, I'm not a conspiracist: I think it's explained by laziness, chumminess with a frequent source, and the near-complete inability of the allegedly well-equipped mainstream media to react to a political story over a weekend.
Why are these guys so slow?
UPDATE: Reader William Modahl thinks I'm losing perspective:
Look, I hold no brief for Trent Lott, and his remarks were foolish at best. But today one of the significant obstacles to better race relations is the fact that the democrat party depends in many parts of the country on getting 95% of the black vote plus a minority of the white vote to be competitive. This means they have turned to stirring up racial paranoia of the worst sort - tarring Bush with dragging ads, creating a fictitious scenario of racially motivated church burnings, etc. Placing the worst interpretation on Lott's remarks and then flogging the issue to death only plays into their hands. They want to open up old wounds of historical injustice for the purpose of exacerbating racial feelings today. Allowing yourself to get caught up in that agenda instead of focusing on today's problems is a mistake.
Well, Modahl is certainly correct that most of today's political race-baiting comes from the Democratic Party -- and I've condemned it often enough. But Lott's remarks really were, as Robert George points out, something sui generis and they deserve criticism just as much as McKinney's hateful comments did.
And I think the fact that conservatives and libertarians are criticizing Lott adds credibility, just as I think the comparative silence of many mainstream lefty pundits on people like McKinney detracted from their credibility.
UPDATE: Best of the Web says that Krugman was really following Josh Marshall's lead. That's really true -- I first found out about Lott's statements via Josh's blog, and I think he was the first one on this story.