Monday, December 16, 2002

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TRANSLATING LOTT: I know I've been harping on l'affaire Lott, [What, you can't think of a snappier name for the current imbroglio?--ed. How about Dixiegate? Still, anyone with a better name, e-mail it in.], but at this point it's like trying to avert your eyes from a grisly car wreck. Plus, if Drudge is to be believed, this is not going to last much longer. So, in the wake of Lott's BET interview, and given the tendency for Lott's statements to be... misinterpreted, let's parse some highlights of that interview:

WHAT LOTT SAID: "another thing that I picked up on, the need for perhaps us to develop a plan, working together in a bipartisan way, bicameral, and multi-racial, you know, young and old, men and women from all sections of the country to have a task force of reconciliation; sit down and talk.

A lot of, I think, what is wrong here is not enough communication, not enough understanding of how people feel..."

MOST GENEROUS TRANSLATION: "It's starting to occur to me that race is an important issue in the United States."
MOST CYNICAL TRANSLATION: "And if that task force, after years of deliberation, thinks I should resign, I'll think about it."

WHAT LOTT SAID: "First of all, you, you know, you are who you are by virtue of where you are born. I didn't create the society I was born into. In fact, I was born to parents that had very meager means.

My dad was a sharecropper. He raised cotton on somebody else's land. My mother did teach school in a three-room schoolhouse. When they came to Pascagoula, my dad worked in a shipyard.

And so, you know, there was a society then that was wrong and wicked. I didn't create it and I didn't even really understand it for many, many years."

MOST GENEROUS TRANSLATION: "I didn't want to support segregation -- society forced me into it."
MOST CYNICAL TRANSLATION: "I was poor, and societal pressures were overwhelming, so you can't blame me for anything I did or said... hey, suddenly I want to vote for Democrats again."

WHAT LOTT SAID: "I want to talk about the King holiday. I want to go back to that.

I'm not sure we in America, certainly not white America and the people in the South, fully understood who this man was; the impact he was having on the fabric of this country.

GORDON: But you certainly understood it by the time that vote came up, Senator.

LOTT: Well, but...

GORDON: You knew who Dr. King was at that point.

LOTT: I did, but I've learned a lot more since then. I want to make this point very clearly.

I have a high appreciation for him being a man of peace, a man that was for nonviolence, a man that did change this country. I've made a mistake. And I would vote now for a Martin Luther King holiday."

MOST GENEROUS TRANSLATION: "No, I had no idea what Martin Luther King's legacy was fifteen years after his death."
MOST CYNICAL TRANSLATION: "Between clueless and racist, I'm picking clueless."

WHAT LOTT SAID: "I know his (Charles Pickering's) heart. He is a good man and is not a racist or a segregationist in any way. The things--many of the things said against him he was not guilty of."

MOST GENEROUS TRANSLATION: "Charles Pickering is no Trent Lott."
MOST CYNICAL TRANSLATION: "If I'm going down, I'm taking anyone within a five-mile radius with me."

UPDATE: Suggestions for renaming Dixiegate include "Lottroversy" (courtesy of Chris Lawrence), "Mississippi Burning" (courtesy of Tom Maguire), and "Stromstorm."

posted by Dan on 12.16.02 at 11:21 PM