Thursday, December 18, 2003

Stuart Benjamin on Strom Thurmond:
    So the choices with Thurmond seem to be that either he was a hypocrite or someone who would say anything to get elected, even if he disagreed with the words he was saying. Which one was he -- hypocrite or liar? My guess is that he really did believe what he said in the 1940s and 1950s, so I think he was probably a hypocrite. One piece of evidence that provides some support for this position is that, unlike some other former segregrationists, he never did repent.

    The second disturbing question is, what did he do to cover this up? One big question is why Ms. Williams never went public while he was alive. She now has given us an answer, and it's not pretty: "Williams said her earlier statements had been a cover, part of an agreement she made with the senator to keep quiet in return for decades of financial support." She had little money -- she was, after all, a daughter with no father (and a mother who worked as a maid and died young). Thurmond helped to create her penury by not raising her, and then exploited her poverty by apparently making a deal in which he would give her money in return for her silence about her true parentage. I don't blame her -- she was dealt a pretty lousy hand by life (and by Thurmond more specifically), and she made a rational decision given her choices. I do blame him. His decision was rational in the way that hush money is often rational -- the briber would rather pay the money than have the information revealed. But it's a pretty despicable business when the hush money is paid to your daughter to further a career built on discriminating against her and others like her.

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