Olbermann: Why is Lott resigning now, 5 years after 'crazy-ass' remark?
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) announced this week that he is resigning from the Senate, almost five years after he was forced to step down as majority leader by a firestorm of criticism over his remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.
On that occasion, Lott praised Thurmond's 1948 presidential race on a segregatonist ticket, stating, "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years."
Keith Olbermann reminded his viewers of this incident, commenting, "It is notable that Lott did not wind up resigning from the Senate until today, nine days shy of five years since that flatly crazy-ass remark."
Olbermann suggested instead that Lott might be motivated by new laws about to take effect which will ban former Senators from becoming lobbyists for at least two years. Sources close to Lott have told news organizations that those laws played a part in his sudden decision, but Lott himself has denied this and insists he ran for re-election in 2006 only because of Hurricane Katrina and now has no reason not to step down.
Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post laughed with Olbermann over the image of the hurricane turning Lott into "a tree-hugger," but suggested that "any number of industries ... would be happy to have him on the payroll."
Robinson also focused on Lott's supposed desire to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. "I guess it depends on which Katrina victims you're talking about," he said. "The gambling casinos along the beachfront are coming back ... that's going to be bigger and better than ever. It's just when you go four or five blocks inland, to working class and poor neighborhoods, where you find that people haven't been so quick to bounce back and the federal largesse hasn't really reached a lot of people."
Olbermann noted a possible glitch in Republican plans, in that if Lott steps down before the new laws take effect on January 1, the Republican governor of Mississippi will have to call a special election to replace him within 90 days, rather than simply appointing a successor.
Robinson agreed that this was a problem, not because the Republicans were likely to have trouble holding the seat, but because they're short on money for a campaign. "Step back for a minute and just kind of look at the Republican Party right now," he concluded, citing a movie about a man who forgets every day who he is. "They seem to lack an identity."
This video is from MSNBC Countdown, broadcast on November 26, 2007.