Lott, Romney Revive Republican Race Card
While the GOP this week wrestled with its new status as minority party, leading lights Trent Lott and Mitt Romney showed the Republicans' attitude towards minorities remains unchanged.
In the Senate, the Republicans resurrected Mississippi's Trent Lott as the new Minority Whip. Lott, who surrendered his Majority leader post in 2002 following his ebullient praise of GOP centenarian segregationist Strom Thurmond, squeaked by Tennessee's Lamar Alexander 25-24 in the closed-doors vote.
Trent Lott, of course, is one of the most notable neo-Confederates among the Congressional GOP. Lott was a speaker in 1992 at an event of the Council of Conservative Citizens. Among its offerings in seething racial hatred is a "Wanted" poster of Abraham Lincoln. Lott's also offered his rebel yell in the virulently neo-Confederate Southern Partisan, where in 1984 he called the Civil War "the war of aggression." Lott's tenure as Senate Majority Leader only came to an end after he crossed the line with his 2002 tribute to legendary segregationist Strom Thurmond:
"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."
(For more details on Trent Lott's ongoing love affair with the ante bellum South, be sure to visit Media Matters.)
While Lott may offer a full house when it comes to playing the race card, his allies in the Senate and the conservative echo chamber are untroubled. As ThinkProgress notes, John McCain claimed "we all believe in redemption." Maine's Olympia Snowe declared Lott's veneration of Thurmond was "in the past," while Texan John Cornyn reported "It didn't come up" during the leadership vote. MSNBC's Tucker Carlson on Wednesday similarly displayed his comfort with trafficking in racial politics, announcing "I've never seen any evidence that Trent Lott is a racist."
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Governor and certain 2008 GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney signaled this week that he is prepared to add the race card to his deck. (As you may recall, Romney followed in the footsteps of Bush press secretary Tony Snow in helping to reintroduce the racial slur "tar baby" back into the vernacular.) On Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported that Romney has hired media consultant Alex Castellanos for his presidential bid. It was Castellanos who famously helped Senator Jesse Helms to victory in 1990 with his color-coded ad for white voters in North Carolina: "You needed that job and you were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority."
In the midterm elections, the American people sent the GOP an unmistakable message in black and white. Apparently, the Republicans still have a different black and white message in mind.