Trent Lott sent a small ripple through Washington yesterday by announcing that he will resign by the end of this year. Lott's resignation ends his 35-year career in the Senate, and comes a full five years before the end of his six-year term.
In a prepared statement, Lott explained that he decided to resign because:
". . . we went to First Baptist Jackson, and . . . Stan Buckley, just happened to preach on Ecclesiastes 3:1: 'There's a time for everything and everything -- a special time for everything under heaven': I believe that's the paraphrase, but he just seemed to be speaking to me."
The actual quote is: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." But hey, close enough, right? When a preacher utters a line that convinces you to end a 35-year career in public service, you can't expect to remember his exact words.
So here's a question: If you planned to tell the world that a Bible verse had persuaded you to end your 35-year Senate career, wouldn't you, in your press conference, BOTHER TO LEARN THE BIBLE VERSE?
So you could, you know, QUOTE IT CORRECTLY?
Trent Lott: "It was something about there being a time for things? A special time? Under heaven or something? Whatever. I heard that and thought, 'I'm gone.'"
The Ecclesiastes verse, by the way, is also a lyric in the Byrds' hit, "Turn, Turn, Turn." So, the fact that Lott couldn't remember it means that, apparently, he's never heard music before.
It's shocking that all it took to end Trent Lott's political career was to have someone read Ecclesiastes to him. Where was Preacher Buckley five years ago, when Lott refused to step down after making racist remarks at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party? Would it have been too much for Mr. Buckley to go over to Lott's Senate office back then and recite a little Ecclesiastes, for the good of the country?
Turning to broader questions, does every Republican have this weakness? What a discovery. Never mind the debates, the television advertisements, the endorsements. Turns out that to make a powerful Republican give up politics you only need to read the right Bible verse.
It's just like the scene in Dracula, where they discover that vampires can be killed by a clove of garlic and a stake through the heart.
Perhaps we should begin a campaign to read the Bible to every Republican Congressperson and every member of the Administration. We could gather them all in an auditorium, and someone from the National Cathedral could come over, and start with Genesis, Chapter One, and work through to the end, until something in the Bible had convinced every Republican to resign.
Dick Cheney would hear, "But Lot's wife behind looked back, and she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis, 19:26) and he would say, "That's it for me. I'm done."
Condoleezza Rice would hear, "And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider's name was Death," (Revelations, 6:7) and she would say, "I just realized I belong in the private sector."
Alas, it won't happen. The press is already reporting that Lott is really resigning to avoid a two-year ban on lobbying by former senators, due to take effect at the end of the year.
In other words, the public already believes Lott really resigned to avoid limits on his future income as an expensive Capitol Hill lobbyist.
Follow Sean Carman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/seancarman