Join former United States Senate Pages Dylan and Ethan Ris as they bring you the dish on not just the presidential race but all the exciting triumphs and disgraces inside, outside, and below the Beltway!
From The Grave! Today, June 26, is five years to the day since the death of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC). Thurmond was a true legend in the Senate, renowned for his love of the military, hatred of "the nigger race", and refusal to let the smarty-pants Senate Parliamentarian tell him when he could and couldn’t nap on the floor of the chamber.
Thurmond was born in 19-ought-2 and attended Clemson University in his native South Carolina. He graduated in the fabled Class of ’23 with a degree in horticulture and showed his school pride by sporting orange hair and skin for the rest of his life. Dedicated to the cause of segregation, he served as a judge and governor of South Carolina before making a third-party bid for president as the nominee of the Senile Racist Party. Back then, old boy Strom was a visionary who saw beyond the tired model of red states and blue states. He saw a third kind of state (going with the flag motif, let’s call them white states) that would appeal to his segregationist platform. Although he lost badly in the 1948 election (erroneous Charleston Post and Courier headline: “Thurmond Defeats Dewey”), his candidacy was endorsed as recently as 2002 by Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)!
Your blogging Senate Pages came to Capitol Hill in the late '90s — just in time to catch the tail end of Thurmond's record-setting filibuster against civil rights legislation. Thurmond's virulent racism was no longer evident by this point, possibly because he had taken to spending more time with his secret illegitimate black daughter. (Oh come on now. How could he not have had one?) Mostly, Thurmond would nap patriotically for prolonged intervals until one of his colleagues mentioned the military, at which point he would rouse with confusion and demand that more money be allocated to the Armed Forces.
But since a person can only be dead-for-five-years once, we'd like to share a particularly special account of an actual exchange between a nonagenarian Thurmond and legendary soul singer James Brown, who — despite his association with Augusta, Georgia — actually lived across the river in South Carolina, making him Thurmond's constituent. This conversation was not printed in any papers, but trust us, our source is legit. We are, after all, Washington Insiders.
Brown: Senator, I'm a resident of your state, and I'm hoping to talk with you about some problems I've been having with the IRS.
Thurmond (having no idea who this is): Yes, yes. What is it that you need?
Brown: You see they're forcing me to pay back-taxes and I just feel that I should be exempt. As you know, they call me the Godfather of Soul, but really… really, I'm more than just the Godfather. I'm an ambassador, is what I am. I'm an ambassador of this country and its music and I'm –
Thurmond: An ambassador? What? Oh my!
Thurmond's Aide: (alarmed, waves hands and shakes head no)
Thurmond: Why, ambassadors shouldn't have to pay taxes! Well we're going to have to do something about this!
Thurmond's Aide: (desperately gives the "throat slitting" gesture to Thurmond)
Thurmond: My staff is going to do something about this right away. Ambassadors shouldn't have to pay taxes!
Farewell, Senator. Whenever we see we see a 100-year-old man drooling on important legislation, we'll think of you.
Tags: Congressional Confidential, Strom Thurmond