Nearly everyone has an opinion about Sen. Trent Lott (who, the Associated Press reports, plans to resign from the Senate today.) My off-the-cuff judgment is that he was and is a skilled political operative with a flexible ideology.
Whatever one thinks of his policies, there’s no doubt that he was a great player at the game of politics. A fair amount of his success, however, may have to do with his amazing facility (best I’ve ever witnessed) for remembering names. I met him twice while working as a reporter and then did see him in person again for over six years. When I went to work for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist he greeted me by name on my third day at the office, remembered that I had been a reporter, and asked me what I had been up to. Since Frist happened to be on vacation when I started work in the Senate, in fact, I talked with Lott before I spoke with my own boss.
A month ago, while I was meeting with some folks up on the Hill, I passed him in the hallway. (Having not seen him in at least a year.) And, again, he greeted me by name.