Former Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott was the guest of honor at a seersucker party Thursday night at the Occidental Grill, where he held court on the seersucker tradition he started in the Senate in 1997 and told charming stories about Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. Unfortunately, no one was there to hear him.
A handful of people showed up to the event, half of them reporters. Lott, in a blue and white seersucker suit and a wallet still stamped with his former title, didn't seem the least bit put out by the low turnout and chatted gamely with anyone who approached.
In a Mississippi honey drawl, he described the history of seersucker Thursday as "one of several things I did to loosen up the Senate a little bit, to get them to enjoy each other across party lines." Former Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, had, in Lott's opinion, the finest seersucker getup, complete with white belt, white bucks, and a straw hat.
"We had tartan days when we wore kilts, April 12," Lott recalled. "I had a singing group calling the Singing Senators." (Lott still sings, though the college quartet he's sung with for 50 years will probably not be getting together this year after the death of its bass in February.)
He rejected one person's question about the declining popularity of seersucker on the Hill. "I think it's very popular," he said. "It's just that some people ... they don't want to do something that looks like they're, forgive me, having fun."
And fun, Lott says, is missing from the Senate.
"It's no fun," he says of the body he once helped rule. "I talked to Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., today who was in the Senate with me ... I called him today and said 'hey senator, what's it like over there?' He said, it's not as much fun as it used to be."