Politicians on Trent Lott and Harry Reid
"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."
Everyone knew that Trent Lott was just trying to be nice to an old man on his 100th birthday. There was no mention of any particular part of Thurmond's platform that he supported, and I assume that if someone had asked Trent Lott right at that moment if that meant that he had supported segregation, Trent Lott would have recoiled in horror. Was it a smart thing for him to say? Hardly. But did he same that he supported segregation? No. So how did the Democrats respond to Trent Lott's apology? Note that it took over a year for Reid to make his apology.
“It seems to be that we can forgive a 100-year-old senator for some of the indiscretion of his youth, but, what is more difficult to forgive is the current president of the U.S. Senate (Lott) suggesting we had been better off if we had followed a segregationist path in this country after all of the battles and fights for civil rights and all the work that we still have to do,” said Obama.
He said: “The Republican Party itself has to drive out Trent Lott. If they have to stand for something, they have to stand up and say this is not the person we want representing our party.”
Nancy Pelosi, December 10, 2002 (thanks to Kerry Picket for point to this):
"He can apologize all he wants. It doesn't remove the sentiment that escaped his mouth that day."
The media firestorm was incredibly intense. Virtually no one defended Trent Lott. At the very least, those who demanded that Trent Lott be demoted should be asked by the media why they are not holding Harry Reid to the same standard.
Al Sharpton NOW AND THEN
In 2002, Sharpton had this to say about Trent Lott:
Well, I think that the fact is that he didn't just make an off-color remark. People are trying to act like he just said something out of line. To say that he wished the country had elected a segregationist ticket ... and then sit at the head of the Republican Party -- the majority party in the Senate that will review U.S. attorneys being confirmed -- is a frightening occurrence for those of us that had parents that in 1948 couldn't even vote and had to sit in the back of the bus.
This is not just an off-color remark. We're talking about somebody in power ... he can't say he didn't say it. You have the tape that shows that he said it. You also have the tape that shows that he said it before. You can go to any local penitentiary, and any crook will say, "I didn't mean it, I'm sorry." But you still pay for what you do.
Mr. Lott said it, and he said it again. He ought to pay for what he said. He should step aside. No one is saying that if the people of Mississippi want to elect him to the Senate that they don't have the right to do that. But to be the head of the party in the Senate, given the sensitivity of that position, if the Republican Party wants to sincerely reach out to people as they claim they have, and as you almost nightly claim they want to, they certainly have an opportunity here by saying, for the interest of the country and the party, Mr. Lott should step aside since he either has very segregationist views or he at least has a repeated problem of being misunderstood when he endorses segregationists.
Now for Reid this is what Sharpton has to say:
I have learned of certain unfortunate comments made by Senator Reid regarding President Barack Obama and have spoken with Senator Reid about those comments. While there is no question that Senator Reid did not select the best word choice in this instance, these comments should not distract America from its continued focus on securing healthcare or creating jobs for its people. Nor should they detract from the unquestionable leadership role Senator Reid has played on these issues or in the area of civil rights. Senator Reid's door has always been open on hearing from the civil rights community on these issues and I look forward to continue to work with Senator Reid wherever possible to improve the lives of Americans everywhere.