Monday, October 10, 2005

Lott, Now An Outsider, May Have Inside Track To Replace Frist

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) is picking up strong support from conservatives for a return to the party's leadership, including serious consideration for the top job, being vacated by retiring Bill Frist (R-TN).

Seems Lott has successfully resuscitated his image. How? By successfully portraying himself as an insider's outsider -- someone who can be a team player, but isn't afraid to stand up to President Bush or Frist. And with Bush's poll numbers tanking and mid-term elections just around the corner, Republican outsiders are suddenly in again.


It's a far cry from 2002, when Lott had what he called a "little bump in the road."

At the 100th birthday party for the late Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Lott said: "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

President Bush said Lott's comments "do not reflect the spirit of our country," and many of Lott's Republican colleagues agreed. Barely two weeks after the racially divisive remarks, Lott stepped down as majority leader, replaced by Frist.


Lott, forced from power, became something of an insider's outsider, at a time when the GOP voted en masse for the Bush agenda. But times have changed. Even Frist, the Senate face for the Bush agenda, has recently detached himself from some parts of the Bush agenda (with one eye on a 2008 presidential run).

But Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, another top candidate to replace Frist, has not detached himself from Bush. For example, McConnell endorsed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Lott thus far has not.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania substantially trails state treasurer Robert Casey in recent polls in his bid for re-election next year. That may leave him out of the GOP leadership altogether. Perhaps in response to his own uphill climb for re-election, Santorum has begun detaching himself from the Bush agenda, most noticeably by remarking negatively on Bush's handling of Social Security reform. Like Lott, he has not endorsed Miers.

So, in the ever-changing Senate, Lott may soon find himself back on top.

"His moves over the past year have been brilliant," one associate told U.S. News & World Report. "From his Gang of 14 judicial nominee blueprint, the handling of the Katrina disaster, and now the Harriet Miers nomination, he knows that the American people expect that the Senate should be a check on the administration and not a rubber stamp."


Anonymous nimrod2005 said...

Don't fall for it...

He is a BIG time insider. Nothing has changed.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Agreed. But it's easier to deal with independent Republicans than those with blinders on.

Given a choice, do you want McCain (or Lindsey Graham or Chuck Hegel) as the GOP nominee, or someone like Frist or Santorum? The reality is, even though you may want the Dems to win in 2008, you have to accept the possibility of another Republican victory.

To me, "anybody but Bush" really means anyone who puts country before party -- at least among those on the right side of the aisle.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous xkenx said...

Sure those guys may be preferable to be running against than RWers. Let's just not confuse them with "moderates." BTW Lindsey Graham was one of Bill Clinton's worst inquisitors.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not exactly to the left of the political spectrum, but nevertheless, a well-written piece on Lott. Thanks!


10:17 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Donaldson said...

The Republicans are not crazy enough to bring back Trent Lott. He could get a chairmanship, but as Majority Leader or even Majority Whip, it lets Democrats revisit his embrace of a theoretical Strom Thurmond Presidency. Strom Thurmond campaigned for President swearing he'd keep black people out of voting booths and public schools and SWIMMING POOLS...and Trent Lott said that we wouldn't have had all our problems if public swimming pools had been properly segregated. They can paint the Republicans as racist until Doomsday. They can run attack ads with Thurmond being a monster, Lott praising Thurmond, and a Republican Senator voting for Trent Lott...and that's it. They lose the black vote and the vote of people who don't like bigots. It wouldn't kill many Senators by itself, but it would revive an old scandal, and it would hurt each and every one of them.

12:19 AM  

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