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Jewish World Review Dec. 17, 2002 / 12 Teves, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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In defense of Lott | Ed Crandall, the former president of American Airlines, once told me the difference between New York and Washington. He said that New York was "tough but not mean" and that Washington was "mean but not tough."

"In New York," he elaborated, "they'll fight you for every last dime and then, afterwards, you'll go to dinner together and become friends." But in Washington, "They'll give you everything you want to your face - and then, as you walk away, they'll shoot you in the back because it's fun to watch you die."

Now, one month after he led his party back to the majority in the Senate, the rites of cannibalism, Washington style, are being visited on Sen. Trent Lott for his inappropriate comments on Strom Thurmond.

Let's start with the fact that I have known Lott for 15 years and have had, perhaps, a hundred or more meetings with him. I got to know him better than any American politician other than Bill Clinton. He is no racist. There is not a racist bone in his body. That's why one third of Mississippi blacks vote for him, year after year.

He took the lead in doubling funding for historically black colleges in Mississippi, sponsored the bill to make racially motivated arson a federal crime, broke the filibuster to get the Africa Free Trade bill passed and brokered the deal that led to a vast increase in federal Title I education aid and earmarked it for poor schools.

And he helped get the Congressional Gold Medal voted for Rosa Parks.

He made his comment about Strom Thurmond - for which he has apologized three times - just because he was trying to be nice to a 100-year-old man. Lott was 7 years old when Thurmond ran and was not a particularly active politician back then.

He didn't mean that Thurmond should have won in 1948. I'll bet even Thurmond, today, doesn't think he should have won in 1948. Lott meant that Thurmond's current agenda - less government, lower taxes and stronger defense - would have been welcome over the past few decades. He undoubtedly meant the same thing in 1980 when he also praised Thurmond.

I personally think Thurmond is an abomination. His current senility is a vast improvement. He should never have been in the Senate in the first place and what he did in 1948 should have barred him from political life. (He broke with President Harry Truman over anti-lynching legislation, for God sakes). But in his current incarnation, he is no better or worse than the average Republican right-winger in the Senate.

If anybody wants an indication of how the Republican Party views blacks these days, refer them to the White House, where two pf the top positions are filled by African-Americans, not because of their color but because of their minds.

The Democrats are just using Lott's remark to get even for losing the Senate. And if they want Lott to resign, why not ask Sen. Bob Byrd (D-W.Va). to resign because of his former membership in the Klu Klux Klan and his recent use of the "N" word on television? And how about Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), who voted against civil rights early in his career?

As for Bush, every president would like to have his man in the majority leader's chair. It makes controlling things much easier. But the Republican members of the Senate want their own person controlling the floor so they can have an independent voice. (A number of Lott's ambitious peers on the GOP side are using this flap to try to move up one notch in the Senate pecking order.)

If this were June, Lott might not survive. He'd have to be in Washington every day, getting hit and picked at. But it's December; everybody will leave that hateful place and go to their homes for Christmas. When they reconvene in January, Trent Lott will still be there for one good reason: The Republican senators don't want him to go.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


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11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris