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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

December 20,  2002

Lott Finally Goes

In resigning as Majority Leader today, and ending a two-week nightmare for conservatives, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott did the right thing for the wrong reasons. 

You may think this is sour grapes on my part, since last week I called for Lott to resign. He had damaged his party, his country, and the conservative movement, and would have been a lightning rod for Democrat abuse. Several on the Left are already calling all Republicans racist. Leftists from liberal organizations like People for the American Way held a press conference today and essentially ordered President Dubya to show he's not a racist by doing what they tell him to (advice I am sure Dubya will ignore). Others, especially the Congressional Black Caucus, have said that Lott could apologize all he wanted, they won't accept it until Lott signs off on their agenda, like extending unemployment benefits and embracing the Democrat version of a prescription drug benefit. All these groups are cynically using this controversy to advance their cause; this would have gotten worse had Lott somehow survived as Majority Leader, partly because Lott would have sold out conservatives by caving to the Left's demands.

But that's not why he quit. No, Lott quit because he realized he couldn't win an election, specifically, the race for Republican Majority Leader between himself and Tennessee Senator Bill Frist.

Senator Frist entered the fray yesterday by announcing he would run for Lott's job. Several other senators quickly voiced their support. Frist needed only 26 votes to unseat Lott, and he attracted at least 20 in 24 hours. Lott knew what was coming. He would lose his post when the Republican caucus met on January 6th. Best to resign now and still retain whatever shred of power, authority, or dignity he has. 

So, the same reason that kept him clinging to his office was what finally influenced his decision to leave that office - power. Hardly principled or admirable motivation. How fitting that even while doing the right thing by going away, he leaves behind an unseemly stench.

Conspiracy theories

All that being said, the cynical part of my brain wonders if there's not more to this story. After all, yesterday Lott was seemingly determined to stick it out and win, and today he quits. Why the sudden about-face?

It's possible that Lott intended to quit all along, and stayed to drag out the story and make Republicans that much more desperate to kick him out before January 6th. So Lott tells them, all right, I'll go before January 6th, but only if you give me something in return, like a plum committee chairmanship. Or maybe Lott has demanded a sort of shadow Majority Leader role, in which he still plays a large, but quiet and unofficial, role in the Senate. Or maybe he was just putting on a good show for the folks at home. One reason Lott remained popular in Mississippi is because he's been so good at delivering pork to his grateful constituents. If the recipients of his largesse think he's too crippled or weakened to continue bringing home the bacon, they might demand his resignation from the Senate. Lott avoids that with his show of bravado and now gallant resignation for the good of the party. And if he does get that chairmanship, the pork continues to flow.

I must say that I have no evidence to support these theories. But it will be interesting to see what the Republicans end up doing with Senator Lott.

Stop Reading Now if you Love Dogs

Let's end this muse with a gruesome story from Peru. Here's the link - but I warn you, it is graphic and the picture will enrage you. Read the story if you want the full details.

Apparently, the mighty Peruvian military uses live dogs to train its soldiers. The dog is tied and helpless while being slaughtered by a trainee with an eight-inch knife. The troops then drink the dog's blood and one of them carries the dog's carcass on it shoulders while leading a victory parade around camp. This is called a "bravery test."

Now, I've got some advice to those big bad soldiers who kill defenseless animals. You think you're so tough? You think you're Rambo? Tell you what - fly up to the U.S. and attack one of our Marines with a knife, tough guy. Pick on someone who can fight back, you spineless cretin. Then we'll see who ends up dead. It won't be the Marine.

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