LOTT IS DAMAGED GOODS. Everybody knows it, except maybe him. If he serves as Majority Leader, the GOP will have to deal with TV commercials like this. Many otherwise-likely Republican voters will stay home, or vote Libertarian, something that is already hurting the GOP.
And Lott's been a lousy Majority Leader anyway. Somebody needs to suck it up and have The Conversation with him. Not serving as the Majority Leader is hardly a fate worse than death.
According to a knowledgeable Republican source, GOP members of both houses are extremely concerned that Lott's comments have so derailed the momentum gained from the 2002 elections that it would be impossible to come in in January, make numerous political confirmations for the executive branch, and begin planning a legislative agenda that would include accelerating the Bush tax cuts and pushing through a prescription drug plan for seniors. . . .
"Even Lott's people understand how serious this has become," says the Republican source, who added that while there is no discussion in Lott's office of his stepping aside, Lott's people are steeling themselves for a growing drumbeat from their side of the aisle for Lott to give way to a noncontroversial leader who can get the Republican agenda back on track.
Rip the band-aid off fast.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Arthur Silber agrees that Lott should go, but says Democrats shouldn't get a pass on their racists, either:
But everyone, including many Democrats, is now all too eager to conclude that Lott must have intended only a racist meaning by those comments: that what Lott truly and sincerely wants is a return to a segregationist era. Lott's remarks are obviously subject to that interpretation (which may even be the most likely one, particularly in light of his stunningly inept "apology"), which is part of what renders them so irredeemably stupid. But if one wants to cast them as unquestionably racist, then what is one to do with Donna Brazile's comment during the 2000 campaign, that she was determined not to "let the white boys win"? Or then California State Senator Diane Watson's comment in 1995 about Ward Connerly's interracial marriage?
"He's married to a white woman," Watson said. "He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."
Aren't those statements just as racist as Lott's? I submit that they are. But the Democrats will never admit that, and the largely Democratic-leaning mainstream press has given these remarks, and many other similar ones, a completely free pass -- when, that is, they are uttered by Democrats. . . .
So the Republicans had better make absolutely clear that they are letting Lott go for all the other reasons that apply, and that have applied for much too long a time: he is not a genuine friend of limited government (witness the pork he is proud to carry to his home state in many, many bills passed under his watch); it is impossible to determine exactly what his basic political principles are (do you know what they are?) -- and as best I can determine, he is only for the status quo, which means a vastly overintrusive federal government in every conceivable area; whenever he has had the opportunity to lead, he has done so in a stunningly lackluster and uninspiring manner; and he has also repeatedly demonstrated the same tin ear and vacuous mind that led to this latest debacle.
Let him go for those reasons -- and not because he is a "racist." As I said, if the Republicans do let him go for that reason, or if it even appears that that is the reason, it will only be like throwing red meat to rabid dogs, the dogs being the Democrats and their friends in the mainstream press.
I think the most egregious example of campaign race-baiting in recent memory was the NAACP's James Byrd ad of 2000, which tried valiantly to link George W. Bush to Byrd's racist dragging murder. And today, Al Sharpton remains a viable political figure. None of this is to make any excuse for Trent Lott, who ought to be dusting off a comfy seat on the back bench ASAP. I'm just pointing out that there are still more fingers yet to be pointed.