It's been at least a few hours since Gary or I blogged about the Senate lynching resolution scandal, so I feel moved to weigh in with one more thought, this one about the regional character of the Lackadaisical About Lynching Caucus.
Today's much-discussed Roll Call story -- which showed the story still had legs -- noted that Democrats are painting the failure of conservative Senators to take a stance against lynching as part of a Republican "Southern Strategy" to appeal to racist whites. But the reality may be more troubling.
To review, here are the names of the recalcitrant 13 Senators who remain unapologetic for their failure to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution:
Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); Robert Bennett (R-Utah); Michael Enzi and Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.); Judd Gregg and John Sununu (R- N.H.); Richard Shelby (R-Ala.); Jon Kyl (R-Arizona); Gordon Smith (R-Ore.); John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas); and Thad Cochran and Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
Notice something interesting about that list? It might be clearer if we add the names of the eight Senators who, even though the resolution had been circulating for months, were so unmoved by the cause that they waited until after it passed to sign on:
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.); Jack Reed (D-RI); Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.); George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio); Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.); Mike Crapo (R-Idaho); Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) (note the three Democrats; this wasn't just a partisan issue).
Lynching was largely a Southern phenomenon; of the over 4,700 documented lynchings that took place between 1882 and 1968, 80% happened in 13 Southern states. Almost half occurred in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas alone.
Yet of the 21 Senators who have either refused to apologize for the practice, or who came galloping to the cause only after the media firestorm had erupted, fully 14 -- two out of three -- came from outside of the South. Over half of the 13 Senators who hold out to this very day are non-Southerners.
Not to let the seven Southern Senators off the hook. But clearly they have no monopoly on racial insensitivity and bad judgement, and its equally clear the Lackadaisical Caucus' silence was more than a move to appease a few racist whites in Dixie. Progressives don't do anyone any favors when they ignore that the political dynamics at work go well beyond the South.