Ken Blackwell: Maybe Trent Lott Didn’t Know That Strom Thurmond Was a Segregationist « The Washington Independent
One of the ironies of the Republican assault on Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is the demand that the Democratic leader be held to the same standard as Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.)–and the Lott flap is not something that Republicans really benefit from revisiting. To wit, African-American former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell takes to Politico to make the case that Lott wasn’t that offensive, really.
Harry Reid’s comments were offensive and, if anything, worse than those that got Lott ousted from the Senate leadership in 2002. What Lott said then was the country would have been better off if 100-year-old Strom Thurmond had been elected president. Lott probably did not know — although he quickly found out — that Thurmond in 1948 ran for president as a so-called states rights candidate and that his platform had only one plank: racial segregation. Trent Lott was all of 7 when old Thurmond campaigned as a segregationist.
This explanation really beggars belief. Even if Lott didn’t know the Dixiecrat platform by heart, he was 23 years old when Thurmond left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP in protest over Civil Rights legislation. He had served with Thurmond in the Senate for 14 years by the time he made these remarks. He had mused about a Thurmond presidency in the past. And Blackwell’s stance here is baffling because he was one of the first Republicans to demand Lott’s resignation back in 2002. From the December 17, 2002 edition of the Columbus Dispatch, via Lexis-Nexis:
“I think if he truly loves the party, he would step down,” Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell said.
Blackwell said he had “conveyed my disappointment in both Senator Lott’s comments and his leadership” to Ohio’s senators as well as other national political leaders in Washington.
Ohio Sens. Mike DeWine and George V. Voinovich, both Republicans, have condemned Lott’s comments, but neither has called for his resignation. Lott’s comments were “morally reprehensible (and) politically counterproductive to those of us who have tried to broaden the base” of the Republican Party, Blackwell said.