December 17, 2002
Trent Lott's Strategic Alternative...
If Senator Lott had chosen to argue his meaning rather than apologize, he could have claimed he was referring to the principle of "states rights" as a mandate to curb the growth of the Federal government. By insisting his comment reflected his preference for policy making at the state level, and less taxation at the federal – he'd assert a hypothetical improvement over history.
But "home rule" doesn't grab the nation's ear the way "Dixiecrat racist" does. That, plus wide perception that "state's rights" is Southern-speak for segregation anyway, compelled the senator to grovel instead of debate.