New Leadership

by

This topic seemed newsworthy enough to move it from the comments section to an actual post. In voting today, John Murtha lost his bid to become the Democrats’ Majority Leader, 149-86. As the president might say, it was a thumpin’. Nancy Pelosi, who was supporting Murtha, won the Speaker’s chair unanimously. It sounds like the caucus asserted itself and said, “Nancy, we love you as Speaker, but you’re wrong about Murtha. We can’t say we’re going to set new standards for honesty and ethics, then turn right around and elect someone with Murtha’s problems.”

Earlier in the week, the senatorial GOP chose Trent Lott as their second-in-command, despite his endorsement of the 1948 Dixiecrat platform only a few years ago. Based on reports I heard this morning, the general sentiment among GOP senators seemed to be that Lott had been punished enough for that. In other words, the punishment they had inflicted was for being impolitic in expressing his racism, not for being a racist. Apparently, it’s still okay to be a racist, as long as you show a little politesse about it. The South’s swaggering style is too gauche for a senate leader; the North’s haughty style, however, is fine.

Advertisements

7 Responses to “New Leadership”

  1. DeJon Redd Says:

    Simul-posting, Juvenal. My sincere apologies.

    While I’m no political expert, did Pelosi really need to go so far as to issue a written statement supporting Murtha as her whip?

    It seems her first attempt to rally the troops really couldn’t been more poorly orchestrated.

  2. DeJon Redd Says:

    Since I just published a post calling most of America racist, I feel a bit strange standing up for Trent Lott. But I will.

    I’m not a Lott supporter in any way, but I’m just not sold on his Strom Thurmond comments providing proof positive that he’s a racist.

    He certainly should have recognized the secondary consequences of his belated endorsement of Thurmond’s 1948 Presidential bid, and perhaps he was perfectly aware.

    But IMO, its not that obvious. I suspect it is more likely, he made the stupid decision to pander to the Southern mindset Sandi so eloquently body slammed in a recent post.

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    No apologies needed, DeJon. We’re all sort of posting at random, nowadays. As Rummy says: stuff happens.

    I agree about Pelosi having put her foot in it with her first leadership decision. She seems to have put personal issues (she and Hoyer are old rivals; she and Murtha, old friends) above what was best for country, House, and party. Not a propitious beginning.

    OTOH, I’m encouraged by the distinction the rest of the caucus seems to have made in voting unanimously for her while soundly rejecting Murtha. It’s the kind of vote that says, “False step, there, Nance. But it’s fixed, now, and we can put it behind us and move on.” She doesn’t seem, as the Washington Post suggests, to have divided the caucus.

    I would agree with you about Lott, if not for the fact that he didn’t just give an old man a pat on the back by talking up his presidential run, back in the day. He said more than that. He said, “If some other states [besides MS] had shown the same good judgment [by voting for Thurmond], we wouldn’t have had a lot of these problems we’ve had.”

    I don’t see a way to read that as meaning something other than a restatement of what the Bull Connors of the world were saying during the Civil Rights Movement: that all these uppity niggers and outsiders stirred up “these problems we’ve had,” and we wouldn’t have had them if the country had stuck with segregation.

    I don’t see any way, in context, to read Lott’s “these problems we’ve had” as referring to anything besides the CRM. And the fact that he still sees it as “problems” betrays his larger mindset, I think. I’m not saying he’s Bull Connor; I don’t think he’d set the dogs or turn the hoses on peaceful demonstrators. But I do think he’s still stuck in that old Southern mindset (“Y’all leave us alone and we’ll sort out race relations down here. Eventually.”), which is inherently racist.

  4. Terry Austin Says:

    I heard (on NPR today) a replay of Lott’s comments regarding Thurmond, and I want to agree with DeJon. It’s that last sentence — something about, “and this country wouldn’t have the problems it does today had we elected him” or somesuch — that I think was ill-advised (duh) but essentially intended as praise for Thurmond’s strength of character.

    I want to give Lott the benefit of the doubt here, choosing to believe he’s a horrible ad-libber rather than a closeted (or perhaps now out-of-the-closet) racist.

  5. Terry Austin Says:

    I would agree with you about Lott, if not for the fact that he didn’t just give an old man a pat on the back by talking up his presidential run, back in the day. He said more than that. He said, “If some other states [besides MS] had shown the same good judgment [by voting for Thurmond], we wouldn’t have had a lot of these problems we’ve had.”

    That’s the quote I was thinking of. Is it possible that Lott was referring to “family values” (or perhaps “Southern family values”) with no intentional inclusion of race issues? In other words, Lott was referring to social conservatism that would’ve occurred under a Thurmond administration, without thought as to how the comment sounded with regard to civil rights issues.

    I’m straining at gnats here…

    … but they’re the good white gnats, let’s be clear about that.

  6. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Here’s the exact quote:

    “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.”

    That last sentence isn’t in the present tense, so I don’t see how it could be a reference to our current “family values” debate. It’s a reference to “problems” that happened in the past, since Thurmond’s 1948 defeat, that wouldn’t have happened if Thurmond had won.

    That doesn’t seem like it leaves much wiggle room, to me. I mean, it could be he’s referring to the assassination of the Kennedys, but since Thurmond didn’t run on a don’t-assassinate-the-Kennedys platform, it seems like a stretch.

    Also, I think the context in which Lott made these remarks reinforces my point, rather than weakens it.

    In other words, Lott was referring to social conservatism that would’ve occurred under a Thurmond administration

    As opposed to what, though? The madcap libertinism of Harry Truman’s America?

    If he had stopped at, “We’re proud of it,” I would agree with you and DeJon. (Although it would still be an especially despicable case of pandering.) But given that last sentence, I just don’t see much doubt to give him the benefit of.

  7. juvenal_urbino Says:

    The madcap libertinism of Harry Truman’s America?

    That’s a little more opaque than I meant it to be. There was exactly one policy of Harry Truman that could be characterized as not socially conservative, and that was his executive order desegregating the armed forces, which happened sometime earlier in 1948, IIRC.

    The Democratic Party’s support for desegregation was the only reason Thurmond, theretofore a staunch Democrat, was even running for president in 1948. He ran because Truman wasn’t going to defend segregation. Segregation was his only issue. If Truman defends it, Thurmond doesn’t run. Period.

    If Lott was referring to Thurmond’s social conservatism, that’s the only socially conservative issue he could be referring to. It’s the only thing Thurmond gives you that Truman didn’t.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: