Another thing to consider with respect to Trent Lott is that if he goes down over something as inconsequential as an off-the-cuff remark, it will be a big win for the Dems.He is answered, in effect, by Shelby Steele in today's WSJ (link requires registration). Steele argues that Republicans, in their push for an officially color-blind society, must be unblemished. That is how the conservative message wins over the mainstream:
The slow march of conservative principles back to mainstream respectability is still so fragile [as this event is proving] that conservatives themselves must be absolutely innocent of racism.I think of the scene in DePalma's Untouchables when Ness tells the men charged with enforcing prohibition how they must abstain from alcohol, must be "pure." It's also similar to the advice many blacks recieved growing up in an era of discrimination: If you want to get a job (or get into a college, etc.), you can't simply be as good as the white person next to you. You have to be better. Republicans, if they ever want to win this fight, have to be 10 times cleaner on the issue of race because, like it or nor, they enter the public arena with the disadvantage of being seen as the "white" party. This perception is in general, I believe, undeserved. But Republican leaders and opinion makers who want to cry about that, rather than doing what is necessary to achieve real justice, should go on Oprah and get out of politics.