Matthew Engel was a great cricket writer but I haven’t really followed his writings since he moved to the US. Not surprisingly as he writes for the Guardian the right-wing US bloggers have not taken kindly to a liberal Englishman daring to pass observations on their country and its politics – so I have decided to keep an eye out.

Engel raises two interesting items in his column today. One is the emergence of an alternative to Al Gore as Democratic candidate for the next presidential election – John F Kerr (what initials for a Massachusetts liberal!).

The other is the outragous comment of Trent Lott, leader of the Senate Republicans, who last week paid tribute to Strom Thurmond, the pro-segregation candidate in the 1948 presidential elections, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. It is not exaggerating to say this is the equivelent of a senior frontbench Tory praising Oswald Moseley.

Lott recalled the fact that his own state had voted for Thurmond as president. “We’re proud of it,” he said. “And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

In other words if the US had voted to maintain segregation of blacks and whites things would have turned out better. This is a senior US politician representing the ruling party arguing that apartheid would have been a better than democracy.

There are plenty of bloggers in the US who never tire of claiming there is some liberal bias in the US media (we have a few with the same fantasy in the UK) but as Engel points out, these comments have hardly made waves in the US:

Lott’s remarks have been picked up by a handful of newspapers and TV stations and none of the news agencies. What does a Republican have to do to cause outrage in this place? Demand the return of slavery? “