Meet your new Senate minority whip

Trent Lott's way with words didn't end in 2002.


Tim Grieve
November 15, 2006 9:28PM (UTC)

Senate Republicans have just elected Trent Lott to serve as their new minority whip, and every mainstream media story reporting that fact will note that Lott lost his job as Senate majority leader in 2002 after saying that America would have been better off if segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948.

We prefer to remember Lott-isms of more recent vintages.

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Lott on Iraq: After declaring that Senate Republicans and "real people out there in the world" don't "obsess" about Iraq like reporters do, Lott said in September that he doesn't understand why Sunnis and Shiites are fighting each other anyway. "Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?" Lott asked. "They all look the same to me."

Lott on Tom DeLay: In an interview with the Washington Times in 2005, Lott said that George W. Bush "needs Tom DeLay" and that the White House should have been giving him "aggressive support." "I think the president would tell anybody privately or publicly that Tom DeLay has been a strong leader, aggressive leader, and that he hopes he'll stay in that leadership position," he said.

Lott on ethics reform: "Now we're going to say you can't have a meal for more than 20 bucks. Where are you going, to McDonald's?"

Lott on critics of "earmarks": "I'll just say this about the so-called 'porkbusters.' I'm getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble since Katrina."

Lott on Abu Ghraib: In an interview with the New York Times' Deborah Soloman, Lott said: "Most of the people in Mississippi came up to me and said: 'Thank goodness. America comes first.' Interrogation is not a Sunday-school class. You don't get information that will save American lives by withholding pancakes." Right, Soloman said, but unleashing killer dogs on naked Iraqi detainees isn't really the same things as withholding pancakes, is it? "I was amazed that people reacted like that," Lott responded. "Did the dogs bite them? Did the dogs assault them? How are you going to get people to give information that will lead to the saving of lives?"

Lott on what it means to look like an American: "I always had trouble understanding -- Iraqis look like Iraqis, and Americans look like Americans ... Methodists, Baptists and Catholics live in my hometown. They all look the same to me, they all look like Americans." Lott's hometown is Pascagoula, Miss., where about 65 percent of the population is white and about 29 percent is black.

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Lott on saying things you shouldn't: "We've all fallen into that trap ... where you go before some group that you really shouldn't, or you're not quite sure who they are or you use some inflammatory language that appeals to that group. And you know, you've just got to learn not to do that. We all have to learn to not to do that, Republican and Democrat alike."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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