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A Tale of Two Selfish Men

Only one word can explain why Cardinal Law and Senator Lott resigned from their leadership positions after the damage had already been done.

11:00 PM, Dec 29, 2002 • By LARRY MILLER
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Now, God knows, I've done some stupid things in my life. Seriously stupid. How's walking into an Irish bar on Second Avenue at three in the morning singing "There Will Always Be An England"? I was punched out immediately. (You know you're drunk when you go to brush something off your shoulder, and it's the floor.) Then they picked me up and bought me a pint. A great joint, closed now.

But this stupid? No. And Lott wasn't even drunk (presumably). Now, again, let's say he's a dandy guy. I don't like him, but let's say he's a peach. Who cares? He represents, at the highest level, a party that's been trying to get a majority of black Americans--or any at all--to vote for them. Well, they can kiss that goodbye.

Lott's supporters kept saying he had apologized over and over, but from the first time on, each one was less effective than the one before, and the first one was a big ol' zero.

And then, in the single dumbest personal appearance since Julius Caesar left home on the fifteenth of March, Lott went on BET to insist not only that he enthusiastically supports affirmative action, but that he actually invented it. I still don't know why he didn't follow that up by standing on the steps of the Capitol and singing "Old Man River."

What angered me so much during this episode was that the only reason the guy hung on like a Gekko was that he really, really, really wanted to be Majority Leader. It was all about him, wasn't it? They needed the Jaws of Life to get the gavel out of this guy's hand. He was selfish, and he didn't give a fig about what the slow bleeding did to his honor, his party, his supposed philosophy, his country, or the still-immense issue of race.

Here's what Senator Lott should have said, here's what he should say now, here's what he will never say: "I grew up in a racist era. Big time. Not the way the word is thrown around today, but the real stuff. I love my state and my country, but we all had a lot to learn in those days. Still do. Especially me, maybe. But God knows I've changed, and I'm trying. I said things the other day that were so far beyond stupid I'd need binoculars to look back and see it, but that's not the worst. The worst is I dug up a coffin of hate and reminded America that just a blink ago some very bad people did some very bad things. And it made me look like someone I'm not. But I can't let my personal desires effect our country for even one day, so I'm stepping aside in order to manage Strom's next campaign. Just kidding."

You know what? If he had just said something truthful about history and race the first day he probably could have kept his job anyway.

Larry Miller is a contributing humorist to The Daily Standard and a writer, actor, and comedian living in Los Angeles.