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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 24 - 30, 2002

Opinion Columns

Cynical politics, not virtue, ousted Lott

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Disillusioned realists who’ve watched U.S. politics degenerate from statesmanship into a perversion of spinning, hyping, deceit, issues concocted out of poll results and candidates cloned for TV marketing know that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s dizzying downfall had less to do with moral outrage and more to do with sheer cynical partisanship.

For most Republicans, Lott’s foot-in-mouth nostalgia for the days of 1948 Southern white supremacy, first caught by C-SPAN cameras and almost totally ignored by Washington media, threatened to stall their quest to abolish affirmative action programs and pack federal courts with judges of spotty civil rights records. Lott also was simply too cozy with Democrats for the tastes of way out GOP firebrands.

As for most Democrats who erupted into chest-pounding denunciations of him, Lott’s sentimental kinship for onetime race baiting Dixiecrat, Sen. Strom Thurmond, was their chance to paint Republicans as hypocrites on racial matters, despite the Democratic Party’s own long tradition in the South of reducing black Americans to peonage status.

But Lott has dutifully walked the gangplank, as did Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich after his "family values" hypocrisy caught up with him¾an adulterous affair with a young staffer, a questionable book deal and a $300,000 House ethics fine.

Republicans can now self-righteously claim the party has purified itself by purging Lott and his racial sentiments, despite Lott’s frantic, if not ludicrous and self-demeaning groveling to reincarnate himself as a flip-flop disciple of Martin Luther King, Jr. The GOP can now return to imposing a solid rightwing agenda on the country without the distraction of Lott.

Democrats are deprived of a political whipping boy, and in the Senate must deal with a new majority leader, probably Sen. Bill Frist, of Tennessee, considered as something of a wimpy errand boy for President Bush.

If black Americans believe the Lott episode will chasten Washington politicians of both parties, they need only look to how the environment, financially strapped state governments, the medical needy, women’s choice, rights to privacy, truth and foreign policy have been thoroughly battered by ideological thugs aided by tongue-tied Democratic opponents posing as representatives of the public.

Someone looking to give a late Christmas present (and take a modest tax deduction) might consider this request:

The Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley would like a music sound system for its pets.

It needs less than $1,000. A retailer has offered do the installation free.

Shelter manager Donna Simms has jury-rigged a makeshift system with two old, so-called "boom boxes" that play music continuously for the shelter’s dogs and cats, even though it’s undependable and scratchy.

She says the music accustoms animals for their new surroundings in adoption homes, as well as providing restful, smoothing melodies to calm them in their shelter confinement. A new sound system would eliminate the current unreliable and scratchy reception.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.