Tag Archives: Strom Thurmond

Yes, Sen. Cruz, but the Democrats have evolved

Oh, how I hate it when someone I detest is correct … even if he doesn’t tell the whole story.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas delivered a historical truth this week while talking to the Fox News Channel. The Republican said that the Democratic Party is the party of the Ku Klux Klan. He said Democrats — not Republicans — have a history of racism and scorn of minority Americans.

Sure, Ted. I get that. Southern Democrats resisted the enactment of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts of the 1960s; prior to that, some Democrats bolted their mainstream party to form something called the “Dixiecrat Party,” and then ran the late Sen. Strom Thurmond for president in 1948; Thurmond would later leave the Democratic Party to become a Republican. What’s more, Democratic history of racial intolerance goes many years before that.

Indeed, President Lyndon Johnson faced fierce opposition from within his Democratic Party to enact the civil rights legislation. He enlisted political help from his Senate Republican friends to push them through to his signature.

But times and policies can change. They did with the Democratic Party. Democrats “evolved” over time.

It’s one thing to talk about historical perspective. It’s quite another to relate politics and policy in real time.

Cruz’s comments came after Senate Republicans shut down a speech by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who was reading a letter by the late Coretta Scott King; Warren used the letter to state her opposition to Jeff Sessions becoming the next U.S. attorney general.

Sen. Cruz spoke correctly about Democrats’ sordid history. It’s understandable, too, that he would ignore how the Democratic Party has evolved into a more inclusive organization.

It’s also understandable that he would ignore how his own Grand Old Party has become, well, a bit less inclusive.

I think it’s fair to wonder what President Abraham Lincoln would think today of the political party that carries his name.

Filibuster provides a rare Senate ‘victory’

Chris Murphy was incensed at his U.S. Senate colleagues.

Four years after his Connecticut constituents suffered the unspeakable grief from the Newtown school massacre, Congress hadn’t done anything to curb gun violence.

So, the Democratic lawmaker took the Senate floor the other day and began filibustering.

He was spurred to talk and talk and talk by the latest mass slaughter, of 49 individuals in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend.

I want to applaud Sen. Murphy for something he achieved from his 15-hour gabfest. He persuaded the Senate Republicans who run the place to hold votes on at least a couple of key bills that proponents say will help curb gun violence.

Hey, it’s a big deal. As big a deal is that it came about by a senator persuading his colleagues to schedule these votes by talking the issue to death.

Filibusters are unique to the Senate. The House doesn’t allow it.

A filibuster allows senators to talk about whatever they want. They can use the procedure to stall legislation. Some prominent lawmakers have used the filibuster to obtain legendary status. The late Sen. Strom Thurmond holds the record for non-stop Senate blabbing. My former senator, the late Wayne Morse of Oregon, was another well-known blowhard who knew how to use the filibuster to maximum advantage.

Sometimes senators’ use of the filibuster backfires. Ted Cruz of Texas sought to filibuster the Affordable Care Act to death in 2013. He failed.

Murphy, though, managed to get a vote on one of the knottiest issues of our time: gun control.

I am not sure where it will go. There are some interesting compromises to what Murphy favors, dealing with disallowing suspected terrorists from obtaining a firearm.

I won’t comment further here on the merits of what Murphy desires.

However, I applaud the senator for talking long enough to get the Senate leadership to at least put this issue to a vote.

Racial issue gets in GOP's way once more

That darn issue of race relations has just bitten the Republican congressional leadership right in the backside.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?


GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., spoke to a white supremacist group in 2002. The group was founded by a fellow Louisianan, one-time Ku Klux Klan grand dragon/wizard/potentate/medicine man David Duke.

Scalise says now he “regrets” his “error in judgment.” He condemns the views of “groups like that.”

Hey, it was a dozen years ago. No harm done now, right? He spoke six years before entering Congress.

Should he quit his leadership post? Should the congressman quit his House seat? I’m not going there until we know more about what he said and the nature of the invitation.

It does kind of remind me of what happened when former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., had the poor judgment to say something kind about the late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign. That was when ol’ Strom broke away from the Democratic Party — of which he was a member back then — to run for the White House as a Dixiecrat. He was a segregationist back then — and proud of it, too! He just didn’t like mixing with black people — even though, as we would learn later, he mixed it big time with an African-American woman, with whom he produced a daughter.

Lott said this about Strom: “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.”

Oh, brother. That got Lott into some serious trouble. Lott stepped down as majority leader.

Two questions: Did the invitation to Scalise come from a group — the EURO Conference — identified easily as a white supremacist organization? And did he know of Klansman David Duke’s association with it?

The deal-breaker well might be the Duke involvement. Let’s come clean, shall we?