So some conservative commentators have taken offense at it. Scott Whitlock at Newsbusters:
Matt Vespa at a conservative website Hot Air.
Former Republican U.S. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi in 1984 explained how the Republican party was the part of Jefferson Davis.
Harold Meyerson with the Washington Post is just catching up on this. Phil Gramm, former Republican Senator of Texas had an interview in Southern Partisan which largely said the same thing, but more obliquely.
This is what former U.S. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi explained in a Southern Partisan interview (Fall 1984, Vol. 4 No. 4):
Partisan: At the convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Biloxi, Mississippi you made the statement that "the spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican Platform." What did you mean by that?
Lott: I think that a lot of the fundamental principals that Jefferson Davis believed in are very important today to people all across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party. .... After the War between the States, a lot of Southerners identified with the Democrat Party because of the radical Republicans we had at the time, particularly in the Senate. The South was wedded to that party for years and years and years. But we have seen the Republican Party become more conservative and more oriented toward traditional family values, the religious values that we hold dear in the South. And the Democratic party has been going in the other direction. As a result of that, more and more of The South's sons, Jefferson Davis' descendants, direct or indirect, are becoming involved in the Republican Party. The platform we had in Dallas, the 1984 Republican platform, all the ideas we supported there --- from tax policy, to foriegn policy: from individual rights, to neighborhood security --- are things that Jefferson Davis believed in.
Later in the interview complaining about the Voting Rights Act:
Partisan: Well, you were very successful early in the administration, with the economic program, but so often when it comes to an issue of great importance to the South --- one that comes to mind is the renewal of the punitive Voting Rights Legislation -- even some of our Southern Republicans seemed to have backbones of jelly. You are one of the few who took a stand against that legislation which, with the "effects test," is far worse than the original version of the legislation.
Lott: We tried to improve on it; we tried to hold off some of those changes that make it even more punitive, and the "effects test" is one example. But I have always maintained that if the same laws were applicable to say, Queens, New York that are applicable to other Southern states, Queens wouldn't be in compliance. ... There is no escape hatch for us. They are still trying to exact Reconstruction legislation that is just not fair. [Followed by a lengthy complaint that if you vote against civil rights legislation people say you are against civil rights.]
Later in the interview complaining about voting or a Martin Luther King holiday:
Partisan: We have another example which seems to defy political reality. The Republican party gets very little of the black vote. Yet when you come with a controversial issue like the King holiday, which more or less made Martin Luther King a symbol equivalent to George Washington, you find a vast majority of Republicans --- even Southern Republicans -- going along. Where is the gain for the Republican Party? The one instance where it has been disproven as a political advantage, Jesse Helms was 200 points down in North Carolina before he made this a more issue with his opponent. Then Helms pulled up to a neck-and-neck position in the poll.
Lott: Well, I think it is a mistake to vote for something like that. It is either needed or not, it is either right or wrong. And I would not vote for another national holiday for anybody, including Thomas Jefferson. I would vote for eliminating some of the ones we already have, as a matter of fact. Look at the cost involved in the Martin Luther King holiday and the fact that we have not done it for a lot of other people that were more deserving. I just think it was basically wrong. ...