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Lott, Now An Outsider, May Have Inside Track To Replace Frist

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Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) is picking up strong support from conservatives for a return to the party’s leadership, including serious consideration for the top job, being vacated by retiring Bill Frist (R-TN).

Seems Lott has successfully resuscitated his image. How? By successfully portraying himself as an insider’s outsider — someone who can be a team player, but isn’t afraid to stand up to President Bush or Frist. And with Bush’s poll numbers tanking and mid-term elections just around the corner, Republican outsiders are suddenly in again.

***

It’s a far cry from 2002, when Lott had what he called a “little bump in the road.”

At the 100th birthday party for the late Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Lott said: “I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

President Bush said Lott’s comments “do not reflect the spirit of our country,” and many of Lott’s Republican colleagues agreed. Barely two weeks after the racially divisive remarks, Lott stepped down as majority leader, replaced by Frist.

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Lott, forced from power, became something of an insider’s outsider, at a time when the GOP voted en masse for the Bush agenda. But times have changed. Even Frist, the Senate face for the Bush agenda, has recently detached himself from some parts of the Bush agenda (with one eye on a 2008 presidential run).

But Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, another top candidate to replace Frist, has not detached himself from Bush. For example, McConnell endorsed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Lott thus far has not.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania substantially trails state treasurer Robert Casey in recent polls in his bid for re-election next year. That may leave him out of the GOP leadership altogether. Perhaps in response to his own uphill climb for re-election, Santorum has begun detaching himself from the Bush agenda, most noticeably by remarking negatively on Bush’s handling of Social Security reform. Like Lott, he has not endorsed Miers.

So, in the ever-changing Senate, Lott may soon find himself back on top.

“His moves over the past year have been brilliant,” one associate told U.S. News & World Report. “From his Gang of 14 judicial nominee blueprint, the handling of the Katrina disaster, and now the Harriet Miers nomination, he knows that the American people expect that the Senate should be a check on the administration and not a rubber stamp.”

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This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.

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About David R. Mark

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>racially divisive remarks<<

    Racially divisive in the sense that they made no reference to race, segregation, prejudice or anything whatsoever having to do with racism. As with so many things, the racial divisiveness of the remarks was entirely the fabrication of people who wanted to smear Lott for what was just a kind statement made at an old man’s birthday.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    David — Where are you getting your info that Lott is getting “serious consideration”?

    It is interesting how things come back around again. Frist looked like he was the Golden Boy, getting ready to be groomed to replace Bush. Events over the past year have made a Frist nomination look remote at this point.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Lott ought to be getting consideration. He was a lot more pragmatic than Frist and did the job better. Plus the ‘scandal’ that removed him was a joke.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Lott comes across as a bright and capable guy. I’d imagine that Bush will do everything possible to 1) Keep Frist in place as long as possible and 2) Do everything possible to keep Lott out as it would be seen as a sign of weakness.

    All told, I’m hoping to see the Dems retake the Senate in ’06, making much of this talk academic!

    All signs are that we may be headed back to (at least) the 49-51, 50-50, or 51-49 days.

  • http://jabbs.blogspot.com David R. Mark

    Dave — the president and most of the Senate found Lott’s comments racially divisive. That’s not news. When you suggest that the U.S. would have been better off with a Dixiecrat presidential candidate with a racist agenda (in 1948), you are making a divisive comment.

    If Lott had said that Thurmond was a heck of a Senator, that would have been different. But he made a specific reference to Thurmond’s Dixiecrat days.

    Sorry if you don’t understand the difference. You’d be disagreeing with Bush on that one.

  • http://jabbs.blogspot.com David R. Mark

    Eric, the linked U.S. News & World report article is one of several that have talked about Lott being a possible Whip or Majority Leader after Frist retires.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Bring Lott back and forget what he said for Strom. Jesus, he was paying Strom a tribute. The man was older than dirt when he finally left the Senate. He was a reformed Dixiecrat and changed with the times. Thurmond understood diversity. There were times he didn’t like it, but in the end he came around. Trent Lott was a good successor to Bob Dole. Frist is a pox on the Congress and I look forward to his final day. For a country that’s supposed to be so loving and forgiving, we’re a bunch of hypocrites when it comes to stuff like this. Racism existed in this country. Racism precipitated the Civil War. Racism was a major problem in the 60’s. The Civil Rights movement just swept racism under the rug. Let’s face facts, America. We’re still a bunch of bigots. Some of us have refocused our biugotry from blacks to Muslims. Others remain racial bigots but aren’t vocal. Let’s just say they’re in the closet (snicker). The return of Trent Lott could be the beginning of a change in the business of politics in Washington. I also believe that Senator Lott can facilitate a real dialog once and for all about the racial divide in America. It’s time to suck it up, confront it and bring the racial divide to an end. We’re supposed to have a bunch of cowboys at the helm of the Federal government. All I see is a bunch of whimpering pussies.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Now, on a 100th Birthday party aren’t you supposed to say something nice???

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Why Lott chose to praise Strom in the exact manner he did is simply inexplicable.

    Maybe he was just being fulsome in his praise for the man, and didn’t realize how it would be interpreted. Or maybe he was half-in-the-bag and inadvertently uttered his own personal feelings about race. I don’t know.

    I DO know, however, that the Left will NEVER let Lott (or anyone else) forget about that brief statement, for as long as he is alive. For that reason alone, it is in the GOP’s best interest not to let him back into the Senate Leadership.

    IMHO, of course…

  • http://jabbs.blogspot.com david r. mark

    Again, it wasn’t the left that kicked him out of Senate Majority Leader. It was his own party, led by Frist. That’s why he and Frist don’t get along.

    I know little facts like that get in the way of a good story. But the left didn’t remove Lott from majority leader.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “the left didn’t remove Lott from majority leader.”

    Yes they did, indirectly.

    If the Left (and the media) hadn’t been so “outraged” over Lott’s statement, the GOP wouldn’t have dumped him.

  • MCH

    Re comment #11 by Bobby (RJ) Elliott;
    Interesting how the party of “accountability” always blames someone else…

  • Dr. Kurt

    More sweeping, stupid generalizations.
    I am a liberal. I respect Lott. His comments, as he has admitted, were a little dumb, but well intentioned.
    I would love to see smart, good-hearted people working together to heal my beloved nation! Lott is welcome to join McCain & some others in this mission.
    Question: if your side wins, are you sure that America doesn’t lose? How about some humility and bipartisan courage?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Dave — the president and most of the Senate found Lott’s comments racially divisive. That’s not news. When you suggest that the U.S. would have been better off with a Dixiecrat presidential candidate with a racist agenda (in 1948), you are making a divisive comment. <<

    I don’t speak for the Senate or the president. The statement was not racist in character. It was supportive of Thurmond. The guy may have been a dixiecrat, but their platform wasn’t solely against racism, and if Lott thought that Thurmond might have done a decent job leading the country – and he didn’t say one word about what his policies would have been – then that’s what he said and it should stand as said, not be read into by those looking for a scandal.

    Dave

  • http://jabbs.blogspot.com David R. Mark

    Again, it was Lott’s own party that removed him from office. The left may have been outraged, but that outrage was as meaningless in pursuing Lott as it is in pursuing Bush.

    The right, led by Frist, pushed Lott to step down, which he did.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    We had to remove him from the Majority Leader, because you liberals portrayed him as a racist to the rest of the country. Who wants the country to think that they are being led by a racist???

    You want to know who is a REAL racist though??? Two clues:

    He is a U.S. Senator of W.V.

    And he is a Democrat

  • RogerMDillion

    “they made no reference to race, segregation, prejudice or anything whatsoever having to do with racism.”

    Are you joking? Strom ran on a platform of segregation when he campaigned for President. Of course, it wasn’t the sole issue, but it was the primary plank. And a very important one to MS, who wasn’t always at the forefront of race relations.

    From Wikipedia: One 1948 speech, met with cheers by supporters, included the following:

    “I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”

    Want to hear it?

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e2/Strom_Thurmond_1948_Speech_Clip.mp3

    If you are proud of voting for someone like that, and think the country “wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years,” then you are either a closet racist or an ill-informed idiot who doesn’t belong as a political leader. Lott actively supported segregation during college, which doesn’t help his cause.

    “if Lott thought that Thurmond might have done a decent job leading the country – and he didn’t say one word about what his policies would have been – then that’s what he said”

    If it’s not his policies, then what basis does Lott have to make the comment? Would every old man regardless of his policies make a good President? Do you have speeches to cite where he makes that comment to others?

    “You want to know who is a REAL racist though???”

    Yes, Abortion Grande, it’s the Senator who hid his illegitmate black daughter.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Robert “The Grand Kleagle” Byrd (D-KKK) was the answer.

    At least ol’ Strom didn’t abort the girl.

  • http://satp.blogspot.com JS Narins

    I still think Lott’s ouster (for remarks he had made several time before) had more to do with the neo-Born-Again’ism in the Republican Party.

    Bush is a born-again, and so is Frist.

    Lott is represents the old Dixiecrat Republican Southern Party.

    Dave is insane to think there were no racist undertones to Lott’s wishes on Thurmond’s birthday. Segregation was plank point #4 of the Dixiecrats, but it was the first one to list an actual policy position.