The new statement itself was very nice and, all things considered, one might give Lott the benefit of the doubt — if he didn't have a record, unmatched by any other current leading Republican of paying homage to a romanticized view of the "old South." . . .
Most people don't expect a 100-year old Thurmond or an 85-year-old Robert Byrd (D., W.V.) to completely escape their racist pasts. But Trent Lott is an adult baby boomer, of the same generation as the current and previous presidents. The leaders of this generation supposedly went through the '60s and supposedly learned a few things about race. That seems true of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But Trent Lott is waxing nostalgic about the Confederacy and Dixiecrats. . . .
George W. Bush and his guru-advisor Karl Rove have to ask if this is a man who should have a prominent position in the "new" Republican party. It's not as if there aren't more interesting alternatives: The ideal choice would be telegenic Bill Frist of Tennessee. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he helped restore the GOP majority. (The one downside for Frist is that the surgeon may be too smart for the position. As one veteran Senate staffer put it, "The smart guys don't win these leadership races because it would be too intimidating to the other senators. You have to be just smart enough to do the job, but not so smart as to make the other members of the club feel inadequate.") . . .
Ultimately though Bush, Rove, and Co. have to ask: "Do they want someone who deserves to be Senate Majority Leader — or a man who seems to continually fantasize being white majority leader?"