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December 09, 2002

WILL VEHRS SAYS PEOPLE ARE "PILING ON" TRENT LOTT:

Lott's remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday bash were dumb. His follow-up comments were dumber. I wish Lott wasn't the Senate Majority Leader. Lott deserves all the bashing he's getting, but let's not confuse that bashing with a substantive critique. These comments are not the stuff of Republicans switching over to the Democratic Party, or demands from within the Republican Party that Lott resign. I see this as a little partisan "payback" for the Wellstone Memorial debacle.

I don't know. Will's usually pretty good at finding the tone (he does PunditWatch, after all) but an awful lot of the people piling on Lott were piling on the Wellstone debacle, too. Me, for instance. And so far I think more Republicans than Democrats have called for Lott to step down from his position as Majority Leader.

There may be a payback angle in some quarters, but it just might be that both events were appalling, and that some of us were, thus, appalled by both.

As for Lott being treated unfairly for being merely stupid, well, here's something Henry Fielding wrote:

Prudence is indeed the Duty which we owe to ourselves; and if we will be so much our own Enemies as to neglect it, we are not to wonder if the World is deficient in discharging their Duty to us; for when a Man lays the Foundation of his own Ruin, others will, I am afraid, be too apt to build upon it.

"Ruin" is too strong a word here, but Lott needs to apologize at the very least, and he probably ought to step down as Majority Leader. His remarks have shown him to be, at best, too imprudent for a position of such responsibility.