Friday, September 30, 2005

White House Denounces Bill Bennett

The story here.

What Bennett said was perfectly defensible, standard-issue ad absurdum argument. In fact, it’s the White House that’s in the wrong, pushing cheap, anti-intellectual statements that are transparent attempts to prove they are not the racist, unfeeling bastards their enemies accuse them of being.


susanna in KY said...

Bennett is a smart man and should have known better than to say what he said. Not a lot of people would immediately know that he wasn't being racist, he was alluding to the fact that race is correlated to crime and thus removing the race with the highest percentage of members who commit crime would necessarily lower crime. It's not racist because race isn't what causes the effect - it's a mix of poverty, law enforcement emphasis on crimes usually committed by low income people, and the disproportionate percentage of black people who are poor, among other things. I'm sure Bennett knows all that very well, and he had it all in his mind when he said that. He should have remembered that most in his audience wouldn't. I go into a lot more detail on my blog, including pointing out that he wasn't advocating harming any babies, he was trying to say an economic calculus as a basis for being for or against abortion is a bad thing. He's right about that. (And yes, the White House should be nicer about it too, but you're dealing with a sound-bite world. Bennett is taking his lumps for being thoughtless.)

Jay D. Homnick said...

As a working columnist who has used every type of polemic at least once in one context or another, allow me to make the following observations.

1) Bennett is a dreary, soporific talk-show host and is not long for radio even if he emerges from this smelling like a rose. (After all, he gambles like a Rose.)

2) There was nothing wrong morally or socially with the argument he was making.

3) It was a poorly-chosen argument for a radio context. It is professorial in style, development and presentation - what I like to call the "circumdenudation" of an opponent's position. It is not for people with generally short attention span to listen to with half an ear while navigating vehicles through tense traffic situations.

4) It not only is not racist, it does not even point out the true failings of a particular race (as Susanna assumes). All he said was that if you eliminate all black children you would eliminate a lot of crime. That's a tautology, of course. If you would eliminate all white children, you would eliminate even more crime.

5) President Bush's throwing Bennett under the bus was, as Wlady Pleszczynski wrote, a "profile in cowardice".

6) Rush Limbaugh is right: "This is harder than it looks."