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Yes, there are double standards. Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, used the phrase "white n_____s" on television recently, and he's still in office. But he isn't a leader of the Democrats. Racial slurs like Harry Belafonte's description of Colin Powell as a "house slave" have been deployed by the far left with less public outrage. Just because these statements didn't create as loud an uproar doesn't mean Lott's record isn't repulsive. Younger conservatives feel particularly strongly about this. Despite the best of motives, they are constantly assailed as closet racists for supporting Republicans and constructing a new and inclusive conservatism. Lott's survival is a direct slap in the face to those younger black, Hispanic and gay conservatives who took Bush at his word when he opened a bigger tent for the G.O.P.
Which is why it comes back to the President. I'm not one of those cynics who believe his superb speech last week was insincere. But he must now realize that his entire domestic political project is undermined by Lott's continued hold on the Republican leadership. Bush must see that Lott's refusal to resign is also a direct challenge to his presidential leadership. So must Republican Senators, who owe their new majority almost entirely to Bush. They all have a duty to save their party now--before Lott does it even more harm.