free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ... taking an imposing analytic toolkit out of the box, over the wall and into the street ... with callous disregard for accepted wisdom and standard English

reading tea leaves from original angles, we've led with uncannily prescient takes on the federal surplus, the dotcom crash, the "Energy Crisis", the Afghan campaign, the federal deficit.

More where those came from ... stay tuned.

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All "major" articles of older material have now been imported, some with updates worth perusing. We'll keep it all on the main page for a while, will add a few loose pieces of history, will trim the main page and index the archives for convenience later.


free agent, loose cannon, pointy stick ...
... gateway to the next Progressive Era?
Some say it's nothing but a train wreck ... roll in the big cranes, clear the track, see what the crew was smoking. If I thought so, I'd not be writing this ... and if they thought so, they'd not be drumming so hard.

Many thanks to Tony Adragna and Will Vehrs, still shouting 'cross the Potomac at QuasiPundit. Early Camp Enron material can be found in QP's Dispatches department.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002

--- Trent Lott Retirement Tribute Planning Begins in Earnest ---

CP tries to avoid beating well-beaten horses, but Jim Henley's Unqualified Offerings offers the best take yet on Trent Lott's "poor choice of words":
The best thing for the Democratic Party [is] Lott hanging on ... they'll wait to see what some dumbass says at the Trent Lott tribute.
Let the planning begin! How about that Sinatra ditty?
"My Way" (Revaux/Francois/Anka)
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows --
And did it my way!
But seriously now, folks ... let's hear it for the Singing Senator!

Lott's words were not extemporaneous, and they were not "poorly chosen". They were scripted with care, and with a serrated edge. It's the thought that counts, and the thought behind Lott's remarks was venomous.

Strom Thurmond's policies weren't merely "discarded" like the ultrawide neckties of yesteryear. (Maybe Trent still keeps those in the back of his closet, too, hoping they'll make a comeback.) And the spokesman-issued generic apology "to anyone who was offended by my statement" doesn't cut the mustard.

How many Mississippians today ever knew their state supported Strom's failed 1948 bid to block Harry Truman's anti-lynching laws? Yes, a political junkie might know, or an old-timer. Even so, it's not the first thing that pops into your head. And even if it does -- you know enough not to bring it up! It's not "tribute" material, and it's not the sort of thing that just slips out.

Given the light-hearted occasion, you could dredge up any number of safer, saner anecdotes. Praise Thurmond to high heaven for his heroic service in WW II. Toast his longevity and indefatigable interest in "the ladies". And discreetly avoid those regrettable episodes from his political history.

But Lott took an opportunity to go for the jugular, and he cut himself badly. In effect, he stood up on a public stage and mooned the national consensus on racial reconciliation ... the hard-won triumph of idealism over a gruesome ignoble legacy. Lott's outburst silenced the room. Nobody laughed, nobody cheered, too many looked the other way ... but enough are standing up and being counted. It stinks, and the stink is not going away.

On the outside, Gore rightly holds Lott's feet to the fire. On the inside, Daschle plays it cool ... politely holding the door open for more of Lott's serial apologetics. No reason for Dem's to push too hard. Lott's drawing enough high holy heat from the Right, where the exercise will help separate sheep from goats. (Robert Novak: "Party of Lincoln? Lincoln was more of a racist [than you think] ...") It may occasion a much-needed refresher course in US history for the younger set (and for absent-minded seniors).

What happens next? Lott simmers slowly in his own juices. If he escapes the frying pan of damage control through the fires of penitence, he's still scarred for life. Now every public appearance by the Southern Strategy's Master of Ceremonies gets scrutinized for back-masked subliminal hints of White Supremacy, and even innocently ill-chosen words reverberate in the echo chamber.

In the end Lott must retreat -- at least to the back bench -- but no hurry ... first, let's find out who wants to stand up with him.