Bloggers are bidding Trent Lott good riddance and wondering what Nawaz Sharif's return will mean for Pakistan. They're also looking south—way south.
Not a Lott of Love: GOP Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott announced Monday he will resign his seat by the end of the year. Lott served as the GOP leader in the Senate from 1996 until 2002, when his remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party appeared to condone segregationist policies. See Jay Rosen's PressThink for an excellent account of how bloggers helped to keep that story alive.
Glen Reynolds at InstaPundit says of Lott, "He will not be missed." It's hard to find many warm fuzzies for the whip on either side of the aisle. California Conservative faults Lott for rampant pork-barrel spending and says, "The Lott resignation is good news to reform-minded conservatives. We won't start winning sustainable majorities again until we're seen as a party serious about reforms, accountability and fiscal sanity."
"Lott will most likely be remembered for his arrogance and his inability to adapt to the paradigms of open government in the Internet/blogosphere era," says conservative Ed Morrissey in a Captain's Quarters post that reads like a political obituary. He "could have led the Republicans to adapt to the new reality and become the vanguard of ethics reform and smaller government, but instead remained entrenched in the trappings of a vanishing era. When challenged, he lashed out instead of listened, and now he walks away with little credibility left."
But why resign now? His current term runs till 2012, and no current scandals are nudging Lott toward the exit this time. Righty Michelle Malkin is suspicious: "Inveterate Beltway creatures who love the pomp and power of their office do not just decide they are 'ready to move on.' Is there another GOP Maalox moment in the works?" David Kurtz at liberal Talking Points Memo thinks that "Trent Lott's stepping down is another signal that the GOP has next to no chance of recapturing the Senate in 2008." But at Firedoglake, liberal Christy Hardin Smith detects a classic motive: money. By resigning before Jan. 1, Lott avoids new restrictions that impose a two-year waiting period on senators-turned-lobbyists. "So, let's see if we have this straight: he's cashing in before the lobbying restriction goes into effect — hello oil, gas, and gambling interests that he was already serving anyway — and he wants to torture everyone by putting Jon Kyl in a position to be on television regularly as the #2 Republican in the Senate. … Best of luck, Trent…clearly you've already got a platinum parachute lined up, or you wouldn't be jumping ship."
Deal or no deal:Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan this weekend after more than seven years in exile. Sharif is expected to oppose President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections in January. He has denied striking any power-sharing deals with Musharraf, who overthrew him in a 1999 military coup.
In the States, Ron at liberal Centerface is not optimistic: "Like America these days, Pakistan faces the choices of bad leadership or really bad leadership. Sharif, a conservative, removed checks and balances upon holding the office of PM, declared martial law occasionally in times of political upheaval, and inaugurated Pakistan's official nuclear program in response to the Indian declaration."
At Pakistan-the Land of Pure, blogger M Junaid Khan posts a firsthand account from Lahore after Sharif's arrival: "Yesterday night i went out to see how the city of Lahore looks after the return of Nawaz Sharif and his family. … Even though it was 9 pm, but i could still see heavy contingents of baton wielding police and barricades all across the main roads resulting in traffic jams. Most of the people in Lahore believed that yesterday marked the end of Chaudhries and the beginning of another era of Sharif's. Even i could feel it seeing the strong jubiliation in the vast majority of Lahorites." (Metroblogging Lahore also offers frequent updates and firsthand accounts.)
Commenting on the same page, Qazi Zuhair writes: "Its really sad fact in our politics 8 years ago we were happy on the departure of Sharif's and hoped the our General will fix the corrupt politicians with the iron fist. but what we saw during these years at least made me realise that even the worst politician is better then the best General."