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Jewish World Review May 3, 1999 /17 Iyar 5759

Don Feder

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Gore race-baits with impunity

(JWR) ---- (
IT WAS A VINTAGE AL GORE PERFORMANCE. Speaking at the annual dinner of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP last week, the vice president drew fangs and horns on opponents of racial preferences.

"I hear the critics of affirmative action. They talk about a colorblind society. Give me a break!" Gore growled. "They use their 'colorblind' the way duck hunters use their duck blind. They hide behind it and hope the ducks won't figure out what they're up to." It's hard to miss the imagery -- quota opponents are gunning for minorities.

Gore's legendary hyperbole was also conspicuous. The man who invented the Internet disclosed that his father, the late Albert Gore Sr., lost his Senate seat due to his support for civil rights legislation.

In reality, Gore Sr., who voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, had a mixed record on race. But the vice president is constantly reinventing himself and his family. Soon, Gore will claim he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Race baiting isn't a tactic Gore suddenly seized on in preparation for the 2000 campaign but a strategy he and his party have been perfecting for years.

In December 1997, after mounting criticism that his race-relations panel is an echo chamber, Bill Clinton met with critics of same, including Ward Connerly, the California regent who led that state's anti-quota initiative, and Linda Chavez, staff director of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission under Ronald Reagan.

In his book "Gore: A Political Life," Bob Zelnick notes that at the meeting, "Gore's reputation for stiff-necked condescension was very much in evidence." The princeling who was raised in a D.C. hotel suite lectured black and Hispanic proponents of merit on the reality of racism in America. "I think it is naive in the extreme to assert that there is no persistent vulnerability to prejudice," the veep pontificated.

But no one claims racial prejudice is extinct. When a man can be dragged to death because he's black, and Louis Farrakhan can draw nearly a million men to a hate fest in the shadow of the Washington Monument, it's clear that we've yet to banish bigotry.

Still, as Linda Chavez explained to Clinton and Junior, "So long as you've got government picking winners and losers on the basis of the color of their skin ... you can't get beyond racism."

If the vice president was bad at the White House meeting, he was wicked a month later at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church. Speaking from the pulpit once held by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Gore rhetorically wondered where quota opponents "stood" on atrocities like the murder in Jasper, Texas.

Sane people have no position on lynchings, other than to abhor them. It is evil to imply that opposition to the injustice of apportioning opportunities on the basis of race calls into question one's basic humanity.

At the Rose Garden press conference following Clinton's impeachment, Gore hailed his boss as "one of our greatest presidents." In light of Juanita Broaddrick's charge that Clinton raped her in 1978, I wonder where the vice president stands on sexual assault.

When it comes to playing the race card, some in his party put Gore to shame. In last year's Missouri Senate race, Democrats ran commercials on black radio stations warning: "When you don't vote, you let another church explode. When you don't vote, you allow another cross to burn. ... Vote smart. Vote Democratic." Before slavery returns?

Democrats engage in such slander because they know they can get away with it. Quotas is an issue Republicans could win but dare not touch.

Clearly, the public understands what Gore does not. In 1996, Californians voted to abolish racial preferences in state employment and higher education. Last year, voters in Washington state approved a similar initiative by a vote of 58 percent.

So, why don't Republicans run with the issue? Their timidity is based on bitter experience. Those who tackle preferences can count on being maligned by the media.

If a GOP candidate attacks quotas, the headlines will read "Republican Against Affirmative Action." For most readers, affirmative action means voluntary outreach. The spin will be that here is another callous Republican who's unconcerned about the plight of the less fortunate.

Democrats like Gore are thus free to pander and stereotype to their hearts' content, knowing their opponents have been cowed to silence.

Clinton says he wants to "get people together across all the racial ... lines that divide America." He could start by muzzling his understudy.


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10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
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9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
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9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
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8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
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6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
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5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
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5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
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4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
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3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
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3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
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2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
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2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
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1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
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12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1999, Creators Syndicate