Gordon Smith and the Resurrection of Trent Lott

Jon Perr

Back in November, BlueOregon highlighted the key role played by Oregon's Gordon Smith in restoring Trent Lott to the Republican leadership in the Senate. Now, the December 18th issue of the New Republic offers the rich backstory on Smith's indispensable help in resurrecting the disgraced Lott at the expense of the milquetoast Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander:

"But then, Oregon Senator Gordon Smith rose to give a nominating speech for Lott. Smith's address was deeply emotional: He described Lott's honorable character and talked about the possibility of redemption. He even quoted from Mark Antony's funeral oration in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The room fell silent; Lott wept. When the doors opened, Lott had been elected minority whip by a single vote."

With his own political future at stake in 2008, Smith may yet come to regret hitching his wagon to the neo-Confederate Lott. Lott, after all, lost his Senate Majority Leadership post in 2002 for his praise of Dixiecrat and staunch segregationist Strom Thurmond. "I want to say this about my state: when Strom Thurmond ran for President, we voted for him," Lott boasted. "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 has been very clear in myriad other ways that "the old times there are not forgotten." Lott was a speaker in 1992 at an event of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a successor to the White Citizens' Councils of Jim Crow days. Among its offerings in seething racial hatred is a "Wanted" poster of Abraham Lincoln. Lott has also offered his rebel yell in the virulently neo-Confederate Southern Partisan, where in 1984 he called the Civil War "the war of aggression."

After his recent rhetorical gymnastics on the chaos in Iraq, Smith's embrace of a red state crusader like Lott won't endear him to the moderate voters of an increasingly blue Oregon. As Marc Antony lamented in that same funeral oration, "the evil that men do lives after them." Not, perhaps, for Trent Lott. But for Gordon Smith, the jury is still out.

Comments

  • Billy Bearden (unverified)
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    Here we go again.

    Lott has done nothing wrong. Smith has done nothing wrong. Well, I take that back, Lott went groveling to the black power base to kiss the rings of political correct race baiters, and it made him look stupid and weak.

    Had Thurmond been elected, we might not have had Watergate, High Inflation, Iranian Hostages, Presidential affairs with Marylin Monroe and Monica Lewinski, or this damned war - certainly not 9/11.

    Yada Yada Yada. Look how bad Lott is (but please don't look at the Byrd behind the curtain, or the anti Veteran Obama, or the socialist Clinton)

    Must be nice to be able to cast stones, being perfect and holy and all that righteous stuff...

    I say we need another Revolution, cause this govt ain't squat, anyone want to help dump some boxes of Tea?

  • spicey (unverified)
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    is there a gordon smith watch website yet? this would make a good addition... i seem to remember that was being talked about. also, I think we should start another troll fund - collect funds as trolls comment on Smith leading up to the 2008 election.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)
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    Billy:

    Cha-ching! I'm making my troll donation to...the Democratic Party of Oregon.

    Kari:

    It would make my life slightly easier if you updated the Troll Defense Fund page to include non-candidate groups like the DPO, Bus Project, FuturePAC, etc.

  • (Show?)

    Bert -- I'd be happy to do that. They just need to all set up their own ActBlue accounts. Easy, legal, free.

  • Liberte (unverified)
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    Hey-Just thought I'[d let you know Thom Hartmann was talking up this entry and BlueOregon on his show (when was that? yesterday or the day before) glad to see you here I've bookmarked you and I'll be here regularly! How the hell do we get Smith out of office? How do we talk Kitzhaber into running?

    Just askin'--Bob

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jon Per:

    Lott, after all, lost his Senate Majority Leadership post in 2002 for his praise of Dixiecrat and staunch segregationist Strom Thurmond.

    Bob T:

    What was your reaction to Clinton giving former Senator and top rank segregationist Fulbright the Medal of Freedom back in the 90s?

    Bob Tiernan

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    The difference is that Bill Clinton made it very clear that he opposed then and now those segregationist views.

    "I admired him. I liked him. On the occasions when we disagreed, I loved arguing with him. I never loved getting in an argument with anybody as much in my entire life as I loved fighting with Bill Fulbright".

    But he honored him for the Fulbright program, which has been tremendously important for the advance of scholarship and cultural interaction.

    Hillary and I have looked forward for sometime to celebrating this 50th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, to honor the dream and legacy of a great American, a citizen of the world, a native of my home state and my mentor and friend, Senator Fulbright."

  • lin qiao (unverified)
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    Apropos Trent Lott calling the Civil War a "war of aggression", it is not exactly a secret that, aside from the Confederate Army's failed invasion of Pennsylvania (ever heard of a place called Gettysburg?) and a few guerrilla raids, the entire war was fought on Confederate territory. Certainly Southerners at the time regarded the war as Yankee aggression. For Lott to repeat this may have been impolite, but that's about all you can say for it. His cozying up to racists is another matter. But can we all be honest? If the people of the Deep South demanded secession again tomorrow, my response would be, don't let the door his you in the butt on the way out. And I expect my non-PC opinion is shared by more people than would care to admit it.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    lin qiao:

    Apropos Trent Lott calling the Civil War a "war of aggression"

    Bob T:

    Don't know if those were the exact words of Lott, but in the South the CW is often referred to as the "War of Northern Aggression", and it's never called anywhere the War of Southern Aggression" or just plain "aggression".

    Bob Tiernan

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bob T:

    What was your reaction to Clinton giving former Senator and top rank segregationist Fulbright the Medal of Freedom back in the 90s?

    Kari Chisholm:

    The difference is that Bill Clinton made it very clear that he opposed then and now those segregationist views.

    Bob T:

    Point taken, Kari, although it's sad to note that Clinton still worked for him even then. He was a "product of his time and place", as some would say, although I don't excuse anyone for that. There were better white people in the South, 'though heavily outnumbered and/or afraid to speak out. I need to read "Intruder in the Dust" again just to remind myself. Great film, too, from 1949.

    Bill Clinton: (!)

    "I admired him. I liked him. On the occasions when we disagreed, I loved arguing with him. I never loved getting in an argument with anybody as much in my entire life as I loved fighting with Bill Fulbright".

    Bob T:

    I wonder what he really thought back then. Did he put it in a private letter made public years later?

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