Quality has no color
The happy couple greet their guests
The All American skin game
Jonah Goldberg (back to web version) | email to a friend Send
January 28, 2005
The Condoleezza Rice nomination was a sorry spectacle, but not in the way everyone is saying. Frankly, I think Sen. Barbara Boxer was completely within her rights - as rude and as typically middle-brow as she was - to criticize Condoleezza Rice. Cabinet appointments are a time-honored way of expressing opposition to presidential policies.
No, the sorry spectacle is the grand fog of racial confusion that the Rice hearings illuminated. On one side we have some Republicans and conservatives accusing Democrats of some veiled form of racism or sexism for giving Rice a hard time. On the other side we some Democrats denouncing Republicans for even bringing Rice's race and sex into the discussion. This is all about policy, they insist. In other words, nonsense all around.
How'd we get here? Well, that's a long story. But let's start with Bush's victory in 2000, which presented a real dilemma for Democrats who'd spent the 1990s playing the race card like it was an expiring coupon. It was Bill Clinton who really transformed the rules of the game when it comes to diversity-mongering. The most obvious symbol of this enlightened thinking was the famous declaration that his cabinet would "look like America." This meant that "diversity" would be achieved once you've appointed a crayon box of different colors (and sexes, though that ruins the metaphor).
Oh right, there is one good reason not to do that: hypocrisy. If you believe in a colorblind society - as Republicans allegedly do - such litmus tests are a violation of principle. But let's put that thought aside for a moment.
Bush's strategy was greeted with moderate success at first. Then Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle declared in May 2001, "I'm pleased that the White House has chosen to work with us on the first group of nominations." Even the hyperpartisan Sen. Leahy said he was encouraged. The New York Times welcomed Bush's nominees as "eclectic and conciliatory." Why the warm welcome? Well, largely because over half the nominees were blacks, Hispanics or women. Peter Beinart of the New Republic caught on to what was happening at the time, warning that Bush had taken the "specious logic" of liberal multiculturalism "and driven a truck through it."
Eventually the Democrats came to the same realization - and followed Beinart's hypercynical advice and took dead aim at the minority nominees. Miguel Estrada, for example, a very well-qualified Hispanic whom the Bush team hoped to groom for a Supreme Court seat, was singled out by Democrats because he was a Hispanic and therefore so much more threatening. In response, Republicans went batty and played exactly the same game the Democrats had played. Sen. Pete Domenici, for example, deadpanned: "I want to say to Democrats . you don't have to be afraid. . They (Hispanics) are good lawyers and great judges." Sen. Rick Santorum called Democratic policy "complete discrimination."
And so here we are today. Different players, same game. Republicans bought the racial logic of Democrats for partisan gain - and it worked. Democrats abandoned the same logic when it stopped working for them. Both sides should be ashamed of themselves.
But, as a conservative who actually believes in color-blindness, I have to say that the Democrats deserve the lion's share of ridicule in this mess. Yes, Republicans are being hypocritical, but they aren't putting their hypocrisy into law. Democrats may claim a sudden conversion to colorblindness, but they still reflexively claim any opposition to affirmative action is ipso facto evidence of racism.
And, more to the point: They started it.
No, my racist friend Jonah, people like misgenist Strom Thurmond started it. They were the ones obsessed by race.
Clinton merely wanted a cabinet which regflected an increasingly diverse America. I know NRO believes in white man's privledge, but clearly by ignoring blacks and latinos, he would have to ignore some of the country's brightest minds.
What Bush did was find barely qualified blacks and latinos, like Miguel Estrada and Janice Brown and said "approvethem, they're colored." It was not about their race, but their minimal qualifications for the jobs they sought. Estrada wouldn't give a straight answer on abortion, Brown objected to the Bill of Rights being in the Constitution. Now, we know NR and NRO would never just hire a Negro to look good, but Bush was clearly playing the Clarence Thomas card, hire any incompetent if he's black and conservative. And if people oppose him, they're racist. Man on dog Santorum was wrong, Estrada was not a good lawyer and Gonzalez's legal skills may have condemned the innocent to death because he zipped through their cases.
To say that the Dems singled out Estrada because of his ethnicity is a lie. It was his inability to answer direct questions.
Oh yeah, on to Rice. She is incompetent. Has been from day one. She is a joke to our allies and her word is worthless. The fact that she is widely regarded as an embarassment to black people is secondary. Clarence Thomas in a dress. She was the worst NSA in modern history and will probably go down making William Rogers look like Metternich. Her color is probably the only reason she has a job where she could fail so badly and get promoted.
But for the racists at NRO to object to racial politics is comical. It's like ManU fans complaining about Chelsea buying players. They are in no position to say a word.
posted by Steve @ 12:40:00 AM