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LOTT SAYS LITTLE! Why won’t Lott praise desegregation? Where on earth is liberal bias when the answer to this isn’t clear?


A NICER CHOICE OF WORDS: Judy Woodruff is cleaning things up for Thurmond, too. Here she was on Monday’s Inside Politics:

WOODRUFF: Back in 1948, Thurmond was known to make statements such as this one. Quote: “All the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches”—end quote.
Clearly, Woodruff was trying to shock us with the kinds of “statements” Thurmond would make. In fact, she presents a sanitized version of the statements in question. As we noted in yesterday’s HOWLER, here’s what Thurmond actually said at the Dixiecrat convention:
THURMOND (1948): Ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the n*gger race into our theaters, into our swimming polls, into our homes and into our churches.
On the one hand, we all understand why decent people don’t want to repeat such statements. On the other hand, don’t you find it a little strange that Woodruff take it upon herself to clean up your history for you? By any rational standard, Woodruff’s report misrepresents the things Strom used to say. She gives the impression that you know what he said—and thanks to her bowdlerization, you don’t. Luckily, Woodruff’s partner, the brilliant Bruce Morton, has helped us see what Strom really meant. According to Morton, Thurmond said these things because he couldn’t discuss his real interest—nudism. Thurmond’s frustration just grew and grew, and soon he was forming militia groups to guard southern white peoples’ swimming pools. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/9/02, to see Morton’s “liberal bias” in action.

Weird, ain’t it? Where do you go for a frank discussion of race and party politics? On Monday, Chris Matthews even recited a Hannity spin-point—it was southern Dems who opposed civil rights. Yes—and most of those Dems then followed Strom, and they re-formed the Republican Party.

Readers, what ever happened to liberal bias? When’s the last time you heard a discussion of Nixon and the southern strategy, for example? The final state fell into line when Georgia went GOP this fall—and pundits all knew they mustn’t mention that state flag flap, which seemed to drive the surprising vote. Despite their appalling “liberal bias,” pundits knew that they mustn’t discuss the background of that important Georgia vote.

Weird, ain’t it? On the Clinton News Network, Woodruff cleans up old statements by Strom. Morton swears that Strom never meant it. And everyone knows to avoid talkin’ flags. Let’s face it. It’s been so long since conservatives saw “liberal bias” they wouldn’t know “liberal bias” if it bit them. Go ahead—take another look at that quote. That’s what gentle Strom really said. What ever happened to liberal bias when Woodruff wants to clean up this record?

LOTT SAYS LITTLE: We try not to evaluate pols, but Josh Marshall’s question cries out for an answer. Over the weekend, Marshall composed an apology for Lott to read, then wondered why Trent wasn’t buying:

MARSHALL: The mystery is why he hasn’t even said something like that. He doesn’t even think it’s a big enough deal that he has to address it publicly.
Marshall isn’t alone on this. Last night on Special Report, the entire panel said that Lott has to toughen his apology. All the pundits, including Hume and Barnes, said that Lott’s current stance isn’t enough.

To Josh, Lott’s reticence is a “mystery.” But we can solve this puzzle quite easily. Why hasn’t Lott offered a stronger retraction/apology/clarification/restatement? Almost surely, it’s because he has powerful constituent groups he just doesn’t want to offend. Marshall wanted Lott to say, “Everyone should know that I believe segregation was wrong. And I’m very proud of the progress our nation has made in guaranteeing civil rights and voting rights of all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color.” Why hasn’t Lott said something like that? Almost surely, he doesn’t want to offend key supporters. You may be surprised to think that Lott has supporters who would find that offensive. But if the sky is still blue and the grass is still green, that is almost surely why he has stayed away from such a statement. And why didn’t this obvious explanation occur to Josh? Perhaps it’s because we so rarely see frank discussions of race and GOP party politics. What ever happened to liberal bias when the groups to whom Lott wants to appeal are so rarely discussed in the press.

What are the views of these GOP southern base groups? Consider John McCain’s favorite race-man from his 2000 primary run. On February 8, 2000, USA Today’s Jim Drinkard wrote a brief piece about Richard Quinn, the head of McCain’s South Carolina campaign. Quinn was the editor of Southern Partisan, a journal holding racial views which are rarely discussed in the mainstream press. In Slate, Jacob Weisberg described Quinn as “a neo-Confederate revanchist who is one of the leaders of the state’s pro-flag faction.” According to Weisberg, Southern Partisan was “a magazine that publishes apologias for slavery and sells paraphernalia celebrating the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” Earlier, the New Republic quoted a reviewer who said the journal was “to the right of National Review but to the left of the Klan.” In the New York Times, David Firestone reviewed Quinn’s mag. “In issue after issue, writers in Southern Partisan vilify Abraham Lincoln and other Union leaders, and venerate the rebel soldiers who fought to secede from the United States,” Firestone wrote. “The quarterly regularly takes the position that the Civil War was fought not over slavery, but over the preservation of a Southern way of life that to this day is worth preserving.” McCain was paying Quinn $20,000 a month to head his campaign in the state.

We’re not here to evaluate Richard Quinn’s views. In the Times, Firestone noted that Quinn himself “has rarely been accused of any kind of personal racism.” (On the other hand, Quinn had written that a King holiday would be “vitriolic and profane,” and that King’s role in history was “to lead his people into a perpetual dependence on the welfare state.”) But let’s put this matter quite simply. The GOP’s southern base includes individuals and groups who would be less than thrilled by Marshall’s declaration. Almost surely, that’s why Lott has failed to make such a statement. And why doesn’t this obvious thought leap to mind? Perhaps because these groups are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media, where it is “politically incorrect” to discuss them. What ever happened to liberal bias when such groups largely go undiscussed?

What role do these groups play in GOP southern politics? In this morning’s New York Times, Carl Hulse quotes historian Joseph Crespino. Crespino has revealed another Lott pro-Dixiecrat statement, made back in 1980:

HULSE: Mr. Crespino, a fellow at George Mason University…said he included Mr. Lott’s comments in the introduction to his dissertation for their “shock value.” “I couldn’t believe he said it in 1980, let alone 2002,” he said. “These kinds of appeals to the racist right have been the G.O.P.’s dirty little secret for years.”
However one wants to characterize such appeals, how could they possibly be such a “secret?” Ladies and gentlemen, we ask you again: What ever happened to liberal bias? What ever happened to liberal bias when matters like this are kept under the rug?

THE MIGHTY QUINN: Democrats need to understand how their party lost the White House. The press corps’ coverage of McCain and Quinn is a tale that all Dems ought to ponder.

Let’s go back to November 1999. At that time, the Washington press corps was thoroughly shocked about Gore’s controversial adviser. According to Time, New York writer Naomi Wolf was serving as an adviser to Gore. Wolf was a thoroughly mainstream figure. A former Rhodes Scholar, she had written three international best-sellers; her first book, The Beauty Myth, had been picked by the New York Times as one of the seventy most influential books of the century. Nor was Wolf a stranger to party politics; she had been a regular adviser to the 1996 Clinton campaign, and her husband, David Shipley, was a Clinton speech-writer. And how had Wolf first become so controversial? By arguing from the feminist center against certain views of the feminist left! Needless to say, pundits routinely hid this fact in their gimmicked-up, month-long Wolf flap.

Wolf was a mainstream figure. But the pundit world went into shock at the news that Wolf was advising Gore. And they flogged the amazing amount she was earning—$15,000 per month!!! In the November 1 Washington Post, Ceci Connolly put the sum right in her very first sentence:

CONNOLLY: Vice President Gore acknowledged yesterday that he hired controversial feminist Naomi Wolf for a $15,000-a-month consulting fee, saying the author and columnist is a “valued adviser” who has helped him target younger voters.
The pundit corps mocked Wolf for a month. She was even compared to Monica Lewinsky by smutty, thigh-rubbing national pundits like Jim Pinkerton, Maggie Gallagher, Kathleen Parker, Chris Matthews. And pundits were in a state of shock at Wolf’s astonishing salary! In the Post, Richard Cohen called it “astounding.” The next day, Maureen Dowd chipped in with her musings. “You’ve got to respect a woman who gets a vice president to pay her a salary higher than his own,” the scribe purred. (Any guesses on how much Dowd gets paid?) Soon, Scripted Pundits were all aghast at the wild salary Gore had been paying. For example, here’s Tish Durkin on the November 5 Hardball. By the way, Durkin was Hardball’s idea of a “liberal.” Incredibly, she was on the show this evening to balance off anti-Gore views:
DURKIN: I think that the, the single most disturbing thing about the Naomi Wolf story is that he was paying her $15,000 a month. Money to burn? I mean, is that—she’s not running the campaign…Then what are you paying her $15,000 a month for?
Discussions like this went on for a month. No one could believe that Gore would pay a controversial adviser $15,000.

And then, on February 8, it happened. Breaking all rules of Pundit Comity, USA Today’s Drinkard went and mentioned Richard Quinn’s salary! Unlike Wolf, Quinn was actually out of the mainstream. And Quinn was being paid $20,000—one third more than Wolf. Since the press corps had been so deeply disturbed by the salary Gore paid his controversial adviser, surely the pundit class shouted long and loud about the big bucks John McCain paid his race man.

Please. In fact, the press corps was in the bag for McCain—and they’d been running a gimmicked-up War Against Gore since March 1999. So they did the thing your pundits do best—they simply spun you blue. How did they treat this pair of controversial advisers? In the month after Wolf’s salary first became known, Nexis records 324 media references to her $15,000 haul. And in the month after Drinkard revealed Quinn’s salary? Nexis records sixteen references to his salary! Sixteen. That’s less than three hundred.

Naomi Wolf was a mainstream figure. There was nothing odd about her campaign role. There was nothing odd about her salary. (And no—no one ever presented evidence that she told Gore to wear earth tones.) But Wolf’s role was reported in Month 8 of the press corps’ twenty-month War Against Gore, so they gimmicked up a set of wild claims. To what extent will they lie in your face? Fakers and frauds, they even pretended to be deeply disturbed by Wolf’s salary.

Meanwhile, McCain’s race man went largely unmentioned. Columns about his controversial views were few and far between. And how about his astonishing salary? Remember those numbers: 324 to 16! Readers, what ever happened to liberal bias? What ever happened to liberal bias when a mainstream figure like Wolf is flogged, and the GOP’s race men get airbrushed?

Senator Lott has supporters like Quinn, and others whose views are more extreme. But the press corps hates to discuss these dudes, and major scribes are now scratching their head about why Lott hasn’t praised desegregation. Readers! What ever happened to liberal bias when the most likely answer isn’t clear?

MUST SEE TV: Don’t miss Gore on this evening’s Hardball. This startling pairing—Chris-n-Al—is a clear case of must-see TV. And as you watch, remember this: One of these men embellished, exaggerated, embroidered and dissembled all the way through Campaign 2000! One of these men showed a character problem! Tomorrow, if you’re very good, we might even say who it is.