Lott Behaving Badly
March 22, 2002
By James G. Wilson
the latest congressional fireworks over judicial nominations,
Trent Lott threw a temper tantrum on the floor of the US Senate
after a judge from his state lost a confirmation bid to the
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Lott threatened serious retaliations
for what he called partisanship over the defeated nomination.
He, like many of his colleagues in the GOP, seems to have
a selective memory when it comes to political axe-grinding.
Conservative pundits and politicians sounded off daily during
the Pickering debate trying to convince America that Bush's
nominees were being treated unfairly by the Democratic majority
in the Senate. They tried to show that Clinton's nominees
were given fair hearings during a comparable time in his administration.
What they failed to mention was that the Senate had a Democratic
majority during that time, as well. They also failed to mention
that Clinton's nominees were treated most unfairly after the
Republicans took control of Congress in 1995.
According to a PFAW Editorial (Feb. 12, 2002), "Between 1995-2000, 35 percent
of Clinton's appeals court nominees were blocked without even
getting a vote; 45 percent failed to receive a vote in the
Congress during which they were nominated. The record was
even worse with regard to the Fifth Circuit, to which Judge
Pickering has been nominated. During the last five years of
the Clinton administration, only one of the four Clinton nominees
to that court was confirmed; the three others were not even
allowed to come up for a vote." Now that we know the truth
of the matter concerning partisanship on presidential nominations,
doesn't Trent Lott (and those who support him) look absolutely
Yet, on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Lott decided to carry
out at least two of his obstructionist threats anyway. He
punished a 39 year old aide to Tom Daschle by transparently
charging that the aide is too young and inexperienced to work
at the FCC. If that was the reason, why is 38 year old Michael
Powell (son of Colin Powell) in charge of that agency?
Lott also blocked a Judiciary Committee request for $1.5
million to fund their investigation of the government's handling
of the 9-11 attacks on New York City and Washington. Bush
and Cheney had already made it clear to Tom Daschle that they
did not want Congress to "probe too deeply" into this matter.
Only those with something big to hide would make such ridiculous
demands of an investigative inquiry! Has Mr. Lott used the
Pickering defeat as an excuse to ensure that the Judiciary
Committee can't do its job? How unfortunate for the
American people that we may never know what actually happened
to cause 3,000 people to tragically lose their lives - let
alone find out how the terrorists got away with it.
Mr. Lott, if you continue to act in this spiteful and irresponsible
manner regarding the people's business, you will do serious
damage to your own party and your president. We are living
in dangerous times, and the American people will not stand
for hollow and misguided posturing from a Senator acting so
childishly. Come to your senses, Mr. Lott, and be a team player
for the sake of this country and its citizens.
Unfortunately, it appears that you have quite a history of
not being for the team when you don't get your way. Remember
how you acted after Hillary Clinton won a New York Senate
seat? You said, "I tell you one thing, when this Hillary gets
to the Senate - if she does, maybe lightning will strike and
she won't - she will be one of 100 and we won't let her forget
it." You didn't seem to care about the other people on her
plane. You were more concerned about getting rid of Hillary
no matter what the cost. This is exactly what you are doing
now on the floor of the Senate as "reprisals" for not getting
your way. It is shameful to say the least, and you still haven't
apologized for those dreadful remarks, either.
When it comes to military service, you chose not to be part
of that team, as well. A March 10, 1997 Time magazine article
comparing you to Bill Clinton on a number of issues stated,
"The Vietnam War was heating up, but Lott, like other students,
enjoyed an exemption until his graduation from law school
in 1967. By then he had married Tricia Thompson of Pascagoula
and, according to Selective Service records, secured a 'hardship'
exemption because of the impending birth of their first child
Chet. Lott says he was so focused on his studies and student
political matters, such as getting soda machines in the dorms,
that he didn't think much about either protesting the war
or volunteering for it. Vietnam, like civil rights, was another
uncomfortable subject to be ducked." While other men with
families were shipped off to die in that war, you couldn't
go because you were too focused on getting soda machines in
Another aspect of your shameful record on war issues was
when you criticized President Clinton during military actions
under his watch. Although you tried to chide Senate Majority
Leader, Tom Daschle, for questioning Bush's approach to his
new war, you made near-treasonous statements yourself in December
1998. Remember your infamous comment of, "You can support
the troops but not the president" during the United States'
armed forces involvement in Kosovo and Iraq? This kind of
hypocrisy completely destroyed your credibility on criticizing
others when it comes to ANYTHING involving the military and
In that same Time magazine article, you said (when speaking
of racial tensions at your college), "Yes, you could say that
I favored segregation then. I don't now." The last half of
that statement doesn't appear to be very truthful on your
part, Mr. Lott. There is a little-known skeleton in your closet
involving your ties to a white supremacist group known as
the Council of Conservative Citizens
(CCC). According to a Truth
Institute article, you had quite an involvement with the
CCC folks. Of course, you had your spokesperson come out and
tell the world differently. Where are your ethical standards
for persons holding office in Washington when it comes to
yourself, Mr. Lott?
It is precisely this kind of racial discord in your past
(and possibly present) that makes many people wonder about
the severe tone of your objections to the defeat of Charles
Pickering's nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Pickering also has a past cluttered with racial animosity.
That is why he will not be serving as a judge in your district,
sir. You can call it partisan bickering if you wish, but most
of America calls it a sane and rational judgement on the part
of Democrats sitting on the judiciary committee.
The only partisan bickering coming out of Washington on this
matter comes from you and those who think like and support
you. Your obstructionist actions will most certainly harm
you, your fellow Republicans and your president politically
in ways you can't or won't imagine. Unfortunately, it is the
people of this great nation who will suffer most if you continue
to act without regard for them and their well being. It is
now incumbent upon you, Mr. Lott, to drop your silly posturing
over not getting your way and get back to being a team player
in the Senate.
Everyone will benefit if you do. Nobody wins if you don't.