Just when the 13 Republican Senators who declined to co-sponsor the Senate's lynching apology resolution last week thought it was safe to poke their heads above the political parapet -- maybe a lazy June weekend would cause folks to forget? -- today's Roll Call (via CapitolBuzz) brings the news that progressives aren't letting it go:
From being busy with other legislative business to a belief that the measure was simply not necessary, 13 Senate Republicans offered a variety of explanations for their decision not to co-sponsor a resolution apologizing for the chamber's past inaction on lynching.
As of late Friday afternoon, the measure's author, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), had 86 co-sponsors, eight of whom - five Republicans and three Democrats - signed on after its Monday evening passage, according to a summary on the THOMAS Web site.
As Roll Call notes, "Rarely has a nonbinding Senate resolution with such broad bipartisan support turned into a touchstone for controversy after its passage by a voice vote," probably because "at least three" Senators remain unapologetic about their stance. Here's Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.):
I don't feel I should apologize for the passage of or the failure to pass any legislation by the U.S. Senate. But I deplore and regret that lynchings occurred and that those committing them were not punished.
Unfortunately, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) used a different excuse in Roll Call than he used last week (as reported in Facing South), namely his candid appraisal that he had already tossed African-Americans a bone by supporting Black History Month, and isn't expecting him to denounce lynching just going a little too far?
But seriously, who do the Silent 13 think their constituency is? Sure, racism is alive and well in the South and beyond. But most voters don't like to think of themselves that way, and certainly wouldn't want to be labeled as apologists for lynching.
Democrats are accusing the 13 of employing a "Southern Strategy" to apease racist white voters, but I don't buy it. That's too small a sliver of the electorate, and if anything, the GOP sees repackaging itself as a "black friendly" party as a top priority.
What we're witnessing in the lynching resolution scandal is a handful of unreconstructed Senators who didn't get the memo about celebrating diversity, or promptly fed into into the paper shredder. Let's not make excuses for them: they aren't speaking for the voters, just revealing their own not-so-hidden aversion to justice and progress.