When did Bush betray you, and when did you know it?

Stanley Kurtz says he feels betrayed by President Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers because, given the recent revelations of her active support for quotas and time tables to achieve racial proportionality in the legal profession, her nomination violates Bush’s promise to oppose race-conscious preferences. Below is Kurtz’s blog entry on this at The Corner, followed by my e-mail to him about it:

Here are the president’s remarks on affirmative action and quotas in a debate with Al Gore in 2000. The president firmly opposed both quotas and affirmative action as traditionally practiced. He did endorse programs like the Texas 10 percent plan. The 10 percent plan is a facially race neutral plan that guarantees college admission to the top 10 percent of graduating high school seniors. It is not traditional affirmative action, and it is not a racial quota. I am no a fan of fixed-percent admissions plans, since even these technically race-neutral plans weaken merit-based college admissions. Even so, it was clear in that debate that the president opposed the sort of race and gender set-asides that Miers enthusiastically endorsed. I still remember that moment in the debate, and how important it was to my support for the president. It gave me hope that we would indeed get justices in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, the sort who would clearly oppose the de facto quota system that affirmative action has become. Given what we’ve learned about Harriet Miers “passion” for racial quotas, I think it has to be conceded in nominating her, the president is reneging on a critical campaign promise. I strongly oppose her nomination.
Posted at 03:24 PM

I wrote the following to Kurtz:

You write, “I think it has to be conceded in nominating her, the president is reneging on a critical campaign promise.”

You’re saying that Bush reneged on his promise just this past month on the race-conscious preferences issue, with his nomination of Miers, as though, up to that moment, he had kept his past promise. In fact, he violated his promise in June 2003, when, after having opposed race-conscious methods to attain diversity in his amicus brief in Grutter the preceding January, he turned around and endorsed them, immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision endorsing them.

As you point out, Bush’s compromise position in 2000 (which he re-iterated in his amicus brief in January 2003) was that he was in favor of racially proportional outcomes, but opposed race-conscious methods of getting there. Anyone who says such a contradictory thing has shown where his true commitments lie. Racial proportionality of outcome is a racial-socialist goal; how can you get there without racial-socialist methods? Indeed, as soon as it becomes clear that the supposedly race-blind methods to achieve racial diversity won’t do the trick, or have ceased to be the politically “in” thing, a person who has taken this “compromise” position is inevitably going to give up the compromise and embrace race-conscious methods outright. The classical proof of this is Bush’s own behavior: within 30 seconds of the Grutter decision he abandoned his previous position and agreed with the Supreme Court that the Constitution allows race-conscious discrimination in state universities in order to create a systematically race-proportional society.

Also, given your comment that Bush’s promise to oppose race-conscious preferences was a key factor in your decision to vote for him in 2000, and given that he reneged on that promise in June 2003 (not in October 2005), did you vote for Bush in 2004?

I voted against him both times, because, among other factors that weighed against him, virtually all his positions on racial issues were on the left. True, he said in 2000 that he was against race-conscious preferences to achieve proportional racial diversity. Yet at the same time he also attacked the racial profiling of Muslims. To say that the group that is virtually the sole source of all terrorists should not receive especially careful examination for possible terrorism, but that all groups must be considered equally likely to be terrorists, is in effect to give Muslims an ethnicity-conscious preference. Thus Bush’s anti-profiling stand in 2000 already suggested that he lacked any principled opposition to race-conscious preferences. I don’t think I made that connection at the time, but it’s worth pointing out now.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 22, 2005 06:50 PM | Send

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