Monday, June 23, 2003
I'm usually not very interested in loud arguments over race relations in the U.S., and particularly affirmative action. My own views on the subject are ambivalent, and I can understand both the motivation for the program, and the negative consequences of it -- so I tend to stay away from the topic.

But sometimes the demagoguery gets to be too much:

CHICAGO - Democratic presidential hopefuls say they will continue to promote affirmative action regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in a case challenging the constitutionality of programs to help minorities in college admissions.

The court is expected to rule any day whether affirmative action programs at the University of Michigan are constitutional. The case was a main topic of discussion Sunday at a candidate forum sponsored by Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day," said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.
Whoa! Let me get this straight: Gephardt will use use the power of the presidency to push through a policy even if the Supreme Court says it's against the Constitution?! And people accuse John Ashcroft of "shredding" the Constitution, and Bush of being a "fascist"? In my view, this alone makes Gephardt unfit for election, regardless of how you feel about affirmative action, or how the Supreme Court ends up ruling. Good grief.

Then there's this, by Howard Dean:

"The president has divided us," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said. "He's divided us by race by using the word 'quotas.'"
This is just patently silly. No matter how necessary you may find affirmative action, there is no question that it divides people by race -- that's its whole purpose. Accusing someone of being divisive simply because they dared discuss the wisdom of such a policy is incredibly disingenuous.

Kerry said he was committed to have minorities in positions of power in his administration, and pointed to diversity in his campaign staff.
Well, there's an easily countered strategy: Bush merely has to point to Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige, Elaine Chao, Norm Mineta -- and that's just his cabinet. Campaign commitments are cheap and easy; Bush doesn't need to "commit to have minorities in positions of power," because he's already put them there.

Of course, some would say that it's not enough to put minorities into high-level positions; they have to be the "right kind" of people, too. Check out the revolting master demagogue himself:

Al Sharpton responded that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a black man who may vote against the university's affirmative action program. He said Democrats shouldn't be talking about getting more blacks in high places, but getting the right blacks.

"If we doubt that, just look at Clarence Thomas," he said. "Clarence Thomas is my color, but he's not my kind."
I suppose Mr. Thomas ought to be grateful for the compliment. But remind me again, Governor Dean: who is dividing the country?

(I would like to note that I am not partisan to Bush, and this isn't meant to be an endorsement of his policies. But with press conferences like these, the Democrats certainly don't seem to be offering any better alternatives -- just some very disturbing rhetoric. They seem quite eager to prove Megan right.)

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