December 15, 2002 in Politics

Should I have Asked Senator Paul Simon about Senator Lott?

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At the Messiah event, sitting 2 Boxes away from us was former Illinois Senator Paul Simon. He is now a professor at Southern Illinois University. As I saw him in the hallway after the event, I wanted to go up and introduce myself. More importantly, I wanted to ask him what he thought of Senator Trent Lott’s recent comments at Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100 birthday party. But I resisted the temptation. After taking part in such a festive event, I didn’t want to ruin it by talking about politics.
But I still can’t believe Senator Lott made those bigoted comments. How could he have thought it was ok to say the following in 2002?:

“When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

I’m not one to kick the enemy when their down, but not only was his comments racist and insensitive, they were also politically stupid. I’m always amazed that in today’s world, people are still bold enough to publicly verbalize their racist thoughts and beliefs. More astonishing is that these remarks came from a major leader within the Republican Party. Isn’t the Republican Party trying to court the black vote? Heck, even Senator Thurmond has denounced his own racist past. Thus it was good that President Bush strongly rebuked Lott. He was so right when he said:
“He (Lott) has apologized and rightly so. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals,”
So Senator Lott needs to resign as leader of the Senate; maybe even from the Senate completely. The fact that it took him 4 apologies to sound anywhere near sincere, shows his true character. As Andrew Sullivan points out:
“He fought integration of his college fraternity; he has hobnobbed with white supremacists; he submitted an amicus brief defending Bob Jones University’s right to prohibit inter-racial dating; he has twice regretted the fact that Strom Thurmond didn’t win the 1948 presidential election on an explicitly segregationist platform; he voted against the Voting Rights Act extension in 1982; in 1983 he voted against the Martin Luther King Jr holiday; last year, he cast the only vote against the confirmation of Judge Roger Gregory, the first black judge ever seated on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Clearly, Senator Lott still believes in the segregationist/racist policies that then Senator Thurmond campaigned on. So if he doesn’t resign, I can already see the campaign commercials being run by the Democrats in 2004. Someone like that doesn’t deserve to hold political office. He needs to be voted out!!!


  1. December 16, 2002 at 9:36 am


    Oh my…you know, I started to follow this controversy late, and I knew only about the second part of the comment, that if the country would have voted him president, we would be better off. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he meant that the Strom he knew in the 80’s (or Strom’s 80’s…same difference) would have been a good president; that perhaps, Lott didn’t know or wasn’t thinking about the racist platform Strom ran on. But if Lott actually voted for him (he ran under a 3rd party, right?) that’s another story.
    OK…just did some more research, and found out that the “we” in the quote refers to Mississippi, not Lott himself (he was 7 at the time). So, I’m still willing to give him a little room on his comments. Not that I don’t think he’s racist, just that I’ve got to believe he didn’t realize what he was publicly saying.
    By the way…Al Gore in the hot tub with Lieberman? Now that’s funny.

  2. December 15, 2002 at 11:15 pm

    Leigh Hanlon

    Actually, you should have asked Paul Simon if he and Ross Perot would consider guest-starring on “Star Trek” as Ferengis. Neither would require any makeup.
    Seriously, you did the right thing in not bringing it up.
    By the way, the most damaging thing to happen Sen. Lott in my opinion is publication of that picture in today’s NYTimes showing him as a college cheerleader. Yikes!

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