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The empire strikes back?

I'm sick of Trent Lott, but like a horrible traffic accident you can't avoid looking at, I seem to keep talking about him. I said that Lott was probably gone, and I think he is, but I did see this story earlier today in the New York Times about a conservative backlash to the Lott controversy. Now, you can't trust the New York Times to report accurately on conservatives, but if we assume they're accurate for once, some conservatives are still circling the wagons around Lott.

"I think he's been treated badly by the White House, I think he's been treated badly by his colleagues, for what was certainly, in my opinion, not a hanging offense," said Robert Novak, the television host and syndicated columnist.

"The Democrats wouldn't have kept it alive if conservatives had said let's not keep it alive," Mr. Novak said. "The conservatives all piled on, and when the president in his speech last Thursday said what he did, that opened the door wider."

Novak, though, is one of the only people -- Pat Buchanan is the other one I've heard -- who doesn't think that Lott said anything wrong in the first place. He didn't think any apology was required because it was a joke. He's so into partisan politics, though, that he can't even understand why conservatives are criticizing Lott. Let me rephrase: he's so into partisan politics that he doesn't even try to understand why conservatives are criticizing Lott. But that's understandable; Novak is into partisan politics as a spectator sport. His interest is ratings, not governing. For conservatives who actually care about the principles, who aren't just trying to raise money or put on a good show on television, the problem is Lott, not whether Democrats "win" a round.

My favorite quote in the article, though, is from South Carolina political operative Richard Quinn:

"Part of the Democrats' agenda," Mr. Quinn said, "is to confuse conservatism with racism."
Richard Quinn, of course, is the founder of Southern Partisan magazine, the one that tries to pretend that the Confederacy was about something other than slavery. Richard Quinn, as much as any liberal, has tried to confuse conservatism with racism. The only difference is that the liberal tries to confuse the two in order to discredit conservatism, while Quinn tries to confuse the two in order to legitimize racism.


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