You know you've really stepped in a pile of political dog shit when the President, being of your own party, publicly criticizes what you've said. After the endorsement that Trent Lott gave to the 1948 campaign of Strom Thurmond this last week, he deserves the ass chewing he's getting from both parties. Democrats are calling for his resignation as Majority Leader, and Republicans want to know what the hell he was thinking. I think the Daily Show had the best take on it, watch the extremely large 38MB video of it here.
"A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past," Lott said. "Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."
Lott, R-Mississippi, made the comment Thursday on Capitol Hill during a 100th birthday celebration for Thurmond, who is retiring next month after nearly 48 years in the Senate. The comment was broadcast live on C-SPAN.
"I want to say this about my state: 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," Lott said at last week's party.
Thurmond ran as the presidential nominee of the breakaway Dixiecrat Party in the 1948 presidential race against Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Thomas Dewey. He carried Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and his home state of South Carolina, of which he was governor at the time.
Lott initially drew little fire, but the criticism grew this week and intensified with a report of a similar comment he made at a 1980 campaign rally for Ronald Reagan in Mississippi. His comments followed a speech by Thurmond, who praised the platform that would soon put Reagan in the White House.
"You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today," Lott was quoted as saying of Thurmond in a November 3, 1980, article in The Clarion-Ledger, a Jackson newspaper.
Lott granted two phone interviews Wednesday during which he apologized repeatedly for the more recent comment, calling it "terrible." In neither case, Lott insisted, did he mean to endorse Thurmond's since-discarded segregationist views. Instead, Lott said, he meant to praise Thurmond's stance on defense, law enforcement and economic development.
Riiiight, oh sure, yeah, because when I think of Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats of '48, I think of "defense, law enforcement, and economic development" as their core issues.