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Not a Lott-a Shakin'

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Evidence that she has company is thin. It's true that the CCC resolution can be read as a partisan parry that's useful to Democrats; on the other hand, as Wexler points out: "In fairness, in terms of all the elected officials who've had associations with this group, speaking before it over the years, the majority are Democrats -- state legislators from Mississippi and so forth." Of course, they're not national figures. But it should be noted that when the Muhammad resolution was before the House, it passed in three weeks with the support of 192 Democrats and with unanimity in the Senate. The CCC resolution was introduced six weeks ago and hasn't moved a centimeter. The difference is that if H. Res. 35 really picks up steam, it could cost Lott his job.

If the party's leaders were smart, they'd ditch him. He enjoys a nice Beltway reputation -- a fair negotiator, a gentleman, a genial basso profundo on "Elvira," which he performs with a quartet called the Singing Senators (that Washington humor); the type of man Sally Quinn, cultural gulch between Georgetown and Mississippi notwithstanding, would probably call "one of us." But a party looking to make itself acceptable to more than the 30 percent of the population that thinks Bill Clinton is Satan hardly needs as its most visible representative a man who called homosexuality a sin and told a convocation of CCCers that they represent "the right ideals and the right philosophy" (he did not intend a pun with those "right"s).

It probably won't happen. What's more likely is that H. Res. 35 won't see the light of day, and Republicans will scamper. I called the campaigns of George W. Bush and Lamar Alexander and the congressional office of presidential candidate John Kasich of Ohio (a House member and not a co-sponsor of the resolution) seeking comment. They had none, and they're likely to try to keep it that way.

Some people, notably some critics of Clinton on the left, marveled at 90 percent levels of black support for the president who signed the welfare bill into law. Marvel no more. The most public aspects of the Republican Party's relationship to black people since 1963 -- the year the party decided to oppose civil rights and get Dixie on its side -- have been its use of racial rhetoric to gin up white turnout and its cozy relationships with groups like the CCC. Clinton sure doesn't represent that, and it's long past time Republicans didn't either. By one interpretation, changing their stance on race means sacrificing their most loyal base, white Southerners; by another, it means shredding a devil's pact the party made two generations ago.

They're lucky to have even one Faye Anderson, who calls herself "loyal, but not blindly loyal," and if they try to whistle past this one, they may lose even the likes of her.

E-mail: tomasky@aol.com


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