Trent Lott New Old Face of Senate Republicans

I’m just back from vacation and this is my first chance to write about the bizarre decision of the Senate Republicans to bring Trent Lott back to the leadership.

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the No. 2 post Wednesday for the minority GOP in the next Congress. But Lott deferred to newly elected party leader Mitch McConnell when asked whether he feels vindicated by the 25-24 secret ballot. “The spotlight belongs on him,” Lott said of his Kentucky colleague, unanimously chosen to succeed Sen. Bill Frist as the top-ranking Senate GOP leader.

But Lott’s comeback-kid victory was generating the most buzz in the Capitol hallways. Lott, who was pressured to step down from the Senate’s top spot more than four years ago, returned to the center of power by nosing out Sen. Lamar Alexander, who had made an 18-month bid for the post.

“I’m honored to be a part of this leadership team, to support Mitch McConnell and all of my colleagues and to do a job that I’ve really loved the most: count the votes,” Lott said. “I’ll do my very best in that effort.”

His victory over Alexander showcases Lott’s lobbying and vote-counting skills. Both men spent the night before intensely lobbying colleagues on the Senate floor — with Lott, also a former whip, casting himself as the candidate more adept at dealmaking and Alexander pledging to be a morale-booster to a caucus still smarting over the midterm elections.

There’s no doubt that Lott is a skilled legislative wrangler and that Alexander is a relative neophyte. Still, Lamar! is not tainted and would have been a sign that the party is moving forward rather than backward. Apparently, the Senate Republicans would rather help bolster the party’s image as one dominated by Southern racists than risk getting outmaneuvered in parliamentary procedures by Dick Durbin.

FILED UNDER: Congress, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Original Article syndicated via RSS from Outside The Beltway | OTB

  2. Blogs of War says:

    Trent Lott Takes Senate Minority Whip…

    This is Unfreakinbelievable:
    Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the No. 2 post Wednesday for the minority GOP in the next Congress.
    Lo…

  3. Trent Lott stages comeback, wins No. 2 GOP post…

    Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of rema…

  4. Richard Gardner says:

    I just was driving and listening to NPR’s All Things Considered where Jonah Goldberg (National Review) gave a humorous commentary on this, though he probably shouldn’t go into stand-up comedy (is craptacular a real word?).

    So much for throw the bums out. (I’m on the West Coast so yes, just listening to it now.)

  5. Politics, Politics…

    So, Trent Lott is back in a leadership role in the Senate, this time as minority whip. This has a lot of folks on the right side of the 'sphere a bit upset. Since a lot of them (this was before my time) had rather a lot to do with Lott lo…

  6. just me says:

    Well there didn’t appear to be anyone from outside the South running.

    I am not a Lott fan not really an Alexander fan either. I do, however, like McConnell and I think he should have gotten the leadership job over Frist, back when Lott stepped down.

    My main issue is I would like to see some newer faces in leadership, rather than the same old dinosaurs from years past.

  7. save_the_rustbelt says:

    Let’s see:

    Lott is famous for sticking his foot in his mouth at Strom’s birthday party.

    The Senate President Pro Tem is Robert Byrd, famous for being a Klan Kleagle, and later for ear marking ridiculous spending for West Viginia.

    Is this the 21st century or what?

  8. Sensible Mom says:

    Trent Lott?…

    Geez Louise, must they select Trent Lott for a leadership position? That man screams sleaze with his slick hair and attitude. I just don’t understand why anyone would elect him given his toxicity. There are politicians, as I’ve said before,…

  9. I agree that Lott is an old face and has an addiction to pork. But the whips job is to count noses and heard cats. If the republicans can keep their minority together and flip one democrat, they win the vote. That is the job Lott is elected to do. When the vote comes up to stop a massive tax increase, stop nationalized health care or to prevent a defunding of the Iraq war, I want the best knife fighter on the job for the republicans, not a choir boy.

    You fight pork in the primaries. But after the primaries, I want a trench fighter to hold the line against the democratic excesses. Lamar was not that trench fighter.

  10. Trent Lott returns to the leadership…

    Back from the political wilderness, so to speak.Four years after racially impolitic remarks cost him the Senate’s top post, Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.) rejoined Congress’s leadership ranks yesterday when his Republican colleagues turned to the veteran in…

  11. Bithead says:

    There’s no doubt that Lott is a skilled legislative wrangler and that Alexander is a relative neophyte. Still, Lamar! is not tainted and would have been a sign that the party is moving forward rather than backward.

    Alexander hasn’t demonstrated any qualifications for the job, either. In any event, I suspect that what the republicans do for the next two years really isn’t going to matter very much at all. The press is going to be spending the majority of its time fawning over its newfound power with the democrats holding the reins. It’ll be “Trent WHO?”