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Trent Lott Behaving Badly
March 22, 2002
By James G. Wilson

In 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 foolish?

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 the dorms?

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 wartime issues.

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.

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