December 20, 2002 – Another day, another scandal on Capitol Hill. This time the recipient was Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) who, despite his adamance about staying on, announced he would be stepping down as Senate Majority Leader.
The fracas began with Lott, celebrating the 100th birthday of colleague Strom Thurmond who was an unapologetic segregationist and candidate for President in 1948. At issue were three sentences in Mr. Lott’s tribute to Mr. Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican who ran for president in 1948 on a Dixiecrat platform opposing ”social intermingling of the races.” With Mr. Thurmond by his side, Mr. Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said:
”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, either.”
The comments brought complaints from both sides of the political aisle and political spectrum with across-the-board calls for his resignation. In the end, Lott announced his resignation earlier this day, and the scramble was on to find a replacement.
And there was other news this day – President Bush okayed a major buildup of U.S. troop strength in the Persian Gulf region. A White House official said the official troop strength of 50,000 would be doubled, however the Administration said no decision on whether or not the U.S. would go to War with Iraq would be made anytime soon. Earlier in the day, President Bush said Iraq’s Weapons declaration to the UN proved Saddam Hussein was not serious about disarmament was a disappointment, adding it was a bad day for those who longed for peace.
And that’s only a little of what went on, this hectic and rather skewed December 20, 2002 as reported by NPR News.