One obvious purpose of the attack on Trent Lott has been to advance the ambition of his critics and rivals within his own party to push him out and put themselves in his place. That’s ordinary politics.
But another purpose has been to exploit the transparent cowardice and incoherence of the Republican Party on racial issues to push the whole party further to the left and make impossible any serious opposition to the anti-white agenda of far-left Democrats and their black constituencies.
The man whose mission it became to unbosom this purpose was the guy who used to be Bill Clinton.
This week the ex-president opened up not just on the Majority Leader, whose tactics in his Senate impeachment trial may have allowed Mr. Clinton to remain in the White House and out of prison, but on the entire Republican Party.
Mr. Clinton pronounced that he was hardly surprised that the Republicans have not already hanged, drawn, and quartered Mr. Lott for his positive remarks about Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential bid because the Republicans privately agree with what Lott said.
“How can they jump on him when they’re out there repressing, trying to run black voters away from the polls and running under the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina?” Mr. Clinton spurted this week. “I mean, look at their whole record. He just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the backloads every day.”
In a word, Mr. Clinton is stating about as clearly and explicitly as can be stated that the Republican Party itself is inherently “racist.”
If there was any doubt that that was what he meant, he said much the same thing again.
“I think that the way the Republicans have treated Senator Lott is pretty hypocritical, since right now their policy is, in my view, inimical to everything this country stands for.”
“They’ve tried to suppress black voting, they’ve ran [sic]on the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina. And from top to bottom, the Republicans supported it. So I don’t see what they’re jumping on Trent Lott about.”
The Republican Party is not only inherently “racist,” but un-American as well—“inimical to everything this country stands for.”
The reason Mr. Clinton unleashed this attack is that he knew very well the Republicans did not have a clue as to how to respond to it. The Republicans didn’t know how to respond to it because they believe absolutely nothing about race, civil rights, segregation, the South, or any of the other matters Mr. Clinton brought up, and the only response they can imagine making to his accusations is a political one—to estimate what response would do the least damage or gain the most advantage for them.
“This is another tired example of Bill Clinton misrepresenting the facts and misleading the American people to gain political advantage.”
That’s what you say when the Democrats propose spending too much money on federal highway construction. It’s not what you say when you’re accused by a former president of “repressing” blacks and harboring essentially treasonable beliefs.
But what else could Mr. Racicot say? He can’t acknowledge that some Republicans have indeed successfully campaigned on the Confederate flag issue because acknowledging that would be to embrace positions and principles now denounced as “segregationist” or at least “insensitive” and an embarrassment to the party.
Nor can he take the “color-blind society” approach favored by some neo-conservatives because that too can be denounced as “insensitive” and leading to the rejection of affirmative action and other anti-white policies that grant state-enforced privileges to non-whites.
That, after all, as his voting record shows, was more or less the actual position that Sen. Lott has taken on most race-related issues up until his disastrous self-disembowelment on Black Entertainment Television last week. But that position has now been delegitimized as much as outright segregationism.
The only substantive position the Republicans can now take, the only one recognized as “legitimate,” is the one embraced by the Democrats and Mr. Clinton, and therefore when the Democrats denounce them as “racists” and un-American, the Republicans can say nothing sensible in reply.
Hence, because of the Trent Lott episode, whatever its outcome, because of the skillful way in which Democratic demagogues like Mr. Clinton have played it, because of the timidity of the Republican response to their accusations, and because of the embrace by neo-conservative eggheads and the Bush White House of what have traditionally been left-wing positions on race and civil rights, the Republicans will find themselves incapable of principled resistance to whatever further radicalism the anti-white and anti-American racists of the Democratic Party demand.