McCain's tin ear.

A mostly political Weblog.
July 7 2008 5:01 AM

McCain's Tin Ear

Happy Fourth of July ... from Mexico!

(Continued from Page 62)

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Note to HuffPo: "Screw 'em. You don't owe them a thing"  isn't condescending! It's not friendly, but it's something you say about opponents who are social equals. ... 'There, there, you poor people cling to God to explain your frustrations'--that's a violation of social equality. ... Backfill: Allahpundit made this point at 4:30. ... Maguire notes that Hillary was saying 'screw 'em' this in defense of traditional liberal policies (which were said to be alienating "Reagan Democrats.") But I don't see why that makes it different from Obama's comment. Obama is advocating traditional liberal policies too. ... P.S.: The full passage isstill a timely reminder of what a rebuke the 1994 election was to Hillary's disastrous pursuit of health care reform before welfare reform. As David Plouffe would say, experience does not necessarily equal judgment. ... 9:10 P.M.

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Philly Debate watching--Pivot Now! Am I crazy or has Obama just opened up a potentially huge Pivot Possibility on affirmative action? His proposal: Allow individualized consideration of "hardship,"  with overcoming race discrimination being one of the possible hardships that you get points for overcoming.. ... The problem, I suspect, is that this interesting intermediate position (between banning any consideration of race and having race be an automatic plus factor) would, if honestly applied, exclude a huge portion of the current beneficiaries of race preferences (who tend to be the sort of affluent African Americans who, like Obama's daughters, have a more difficult time making an individual "hardship" case). Will Obama now be denounced by the civil rights establishment? Will that help him in Pennsylvania? It would certainly get rid of the Cling. ... Developing! ...  Rick Kahlenberg, you're up! ...  Note: I think last night's statement adds to what Obama has said before. See below.

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P.S.: Aside from that, I thought Obama got the worse of it in the debate. He was on the defensive, and non-inspiring. Hillary was fairly palatable,** despite a few rough moments. ... I have no criticism  of Gibson or Stephanopoulos. A relentless focus on negative character attacks can be revealing--and it was. That's especially true in this campaign, where the actual policy differences between the candidates have been small and often tedious. ...

Update: Here's a transcript of  what Obama said  about race preferences [E.A.]:

And race is still a factor in our society. And I think that for universities and other institutions to say, you know, we're going to take into account the hardships that somebody has experienced because they're black or Latino or because they're women --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if they're wealthy?

SENATOR OBAMA: I think that's something that they can take into account, but it can only be in the context of looking at the whole situation of the young person. So if they look at my child and they say, you know, Malia and Sasha, they've had a pretty good deal, then that shouldn't be factored in. On the other hand, if there's a young white person who has been working hard, struggling, and has overcome great odds, that's something that should be taken into account.

So I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination, but I think that it can't be a quota system and it can't be something that is simply applied without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black or white or Hispanic, male or female.

What we want to do is make sure that people who have been locked out of opportunity are going to be able to walk through those doors of opportunity in the future.

"Shouldn't be factored in." Potential game changer! Hello? A nuclear weapon aimed like a laser at Hillary's white working class base! ... Now if only some enterprising reporter will get Jesse Jackson to take umbrage at Obama's heresy. Is that so hard? (And if Jackson approves of Obama's answer, that's news too.)*** ...  My fear is that the civil rights establishment will get to Obama in private, and he'll wuss out and walk it back. ...

1) He hasn't been saying it a lot since, so there was always a question as to whether he meant it or would backtrack, etc. His heretical position isn't featured on his Web site--it ducks the issue, as far as I can see (which itself is suggestive but not exactly clarifying). Even if he had simply repeated his This Week statement it would be significant. But he didn't.

2)  On This Week he said:

"I think that my daughters should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged, and I think that there's nothing wrong with us taking that into account as we consider admissions policies at universities. I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed. So I don't think those concepts are mutually exclusive."

Note that this year-old passage doesn't say his daughters race shouldn't be taken into account at all. He seems more to be saying everything should be taken into account. That, plus the "mutually exclusive" language, led skeptical commentators to speculate  that he just wants to layer on another preference for disadvantaged whites--as opposed to taking it away from affluent blacks. ... 

Last night, however, he certainly seemed to say race would not be a factor at all for "advantaged" blacks like his daughters. ("Shouldn't be factored in.") That seems like a further step--a big one. Wiping out the race preference for upper class blacks would in practice wipe out most race preference admissions at elite schools, no? It strikes at the core of the actual, practical race-preference constituency. If Hillary said it, there would be a firestorm from the civil rights lobby, I think.

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