Taking a stand before the Friday-afternoon-to-Monday-morning news brownout, President Bush had some harsh words for Trent Lott:
Any suggestion that the segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong… Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country. . .
Fiery words — but with how much real heat? Bush never called for Lott to step down as Senate Majority Leader-designate, and rightly so. That’s a matter for Senate Republicans to decide. But had Bush simply said, “it’s up to his conscience and his fellow Senators to decide if my friend Trent Lott remains Majority Leader,” then the message “Lott must go” would be made loud enough for even Trent to understand.
The President’s words today will partly cover Republican asses — including his own — in 2004. But he should have gone that one sentence farther.