Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-La., made a big mistake the other day.
He said retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., would have made a great president had he been elected in 1948 as a member of the Dixiecrats, a party that promoted racial segregation.
Lott made this speech during Thurmond’s 100th birthday party on Dec. 5.
The NAACP wants Lott to resign, and even members of Lott’s party are calling for him to make a stronger apology than previous ones.
He apologized again Wednesday, but it didn’t add much to his previous acts of contrition. What else can he say, though? “I am really, REALLY sorry”?
Obviously, Lott is not a segregationist. That would be a ridiculous assumption. But he is indeed an Old Southerner with a molasses-thick drawl and a proclivity for seersucker suits.
Still, the senator is not an idiot. Lott is a shrewd, accomplished politician and wouldn’t be stupid enough to say such a thing unless it was in error.
This situation is being blown so hugely out of proportion. Everyone sometimes speaks before they think. Nobody’s perfect.
In this case, Sen. Lott didn’t think before he spoke.
But he should apologize – sincerely – and clarify that he was just trying to honor the centenarian senator, not humiliate, infuriate and instigate African Americans. Lott’s apologies thus far have not been very convincing.
We dismiss his comments as a mistake, albeit a stupid one.