Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2003 / 18 Shevat, 5763


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Michigan Case Leads Peace Marches | President Bush's position on the University of Michigan affirmative action case and weekend

Discussions about Iraq and the peace marches with Secretary of State Colin Powell on Face the Nation and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on Meet the Press were almost routine preliminaries before affirmative action questions.

Secretary Powell did not dispute that he favored the University of Michigan's position, but he made his disagreement with the President sound as if it was merely a technicality. "We have a common desire to see our universities as diverse places. How best to achieve that is a challenge." Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer did not ask a follow-up.

Dr. Rice took several questions from host Tim Russert on the Michigan case. She said a Washington Post story about her decisive role in the President's decision was "not accurate." She said the President was "exactly in the right place." Rice indicated that she had problems with Michigan's policy, hinting that it revolved around the 20-point preference on a 150-point scale. She urged policies that "look at the total person."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn, the latest to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, declared the President's position on the Michigan case to be "wrong, deceptive, divisive, and unnecessary," but had to fend off tough questioning from Russert on Meet the Press about his past position. Lieberman was forced into contortions when shown statements he had made in the past. He may regret having said at the outset of the interview, "I never changed a single position," referring to his positions as a vice-presidential candidate in 2000.

Wade Henderson, of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said on Face the Nation that President Bush was "trying to have it both ways" on diversity and that calling Michigan's policy a quota was "inflammatory." On the same program, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called the administration brief to the Supreme Court "ingenious." Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal, on Capital Gang, called the brief "disingenuous."

Best commentary of the week about diversity, affirmative action, and the Michigan case came on the News Hour. Syndicated columnist Mark Shields also charged that the President was "trying to have it both ways" and The Weekly Standard's David Brooks noted the contrast between the President's speech and the legal brief:

"The Wednesday speech - it was like the Henry IV speech for conservatives - we happy few. And then the Friday brief comes out and it was a clarion call with a kazoo."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared on both Fox News Sunday and This Week. Thankfully, he was not asked about the Michigan case. His major talking point was that UN inspectors are not seeking a "smoking gun," but rather the compliance that other nations, such as South Africa and the Ukraine, demonstrated when they were subject to inspection. On Fox, The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol saw Rumsfeld making news by declaring that while the US would not invade North Korea, the military option, i.e., a pre-emptive strike on nuclear facilities, was not "off the table."

Ceci Connally of the Washington Post, also on Fox, disputed the effectiveness of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, warning it would be "dirty," with extensive contamination.


Tim Russert hyped the Rice and Lieberman appearances on Meet the Press as "exclusive" and "first" more energetically than usual. Could he be hearing footsteps from This Week? George Stephanopolous, host of This Week, has begun top Russert in attracting top Democrats to his show. A rare Sunday appearance by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass, and a short chat with potential presidential candidate, former Sen. Gary Hart, D-CO, were This Week's latest exclusives.


The Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Yang Jiechi, appeared on Fox News Sunday with less than dramatic news. China favors peace and stability, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, and letting UN weapons inspectors continue their work.


Members of the Capital Gang were split on Sen. Joe Lieberman's candidacy:

He's a soccer mom's dream. He's got the family values, compromise is not a bad thing among independents. And he's just an appealing guy. -Time's Margaret Carlson

He's a religiously active, religiously serious man, and that's very appealing. -Kate O'Beirne, National Review

One problem is the calendar. The first two tests are Iowa and New Hampshire. Those are not strong states for Joe Lieberman. And I don't think someone can get the nomination who loses both of those. -Al Hunt, Wall Street Journal

I've had a lot of Democrats tell me that what they really can't stand about him is Holy Joe, that he's religious, that he talks about God, that he talks about faith. That tells a lot about some of these Democrats, but it also is a problem for him. -Bob Novak, Chicago Sun-Times

For his part, Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer said Lieberman has a "Golden Retriever kind of face."


When Joe Lieberman concluded his Meet the Press interview with those words, a smiling Tim Russert responded:

"That's the same thing Al Sharpton said. I'm bringing Jewish and black Americans together."


"First of all, if you are the son of an African American surgeon, you get a 20-point advantage over the daughter of a Filipino video store manager; that's not fair.

It's also so race obsessed. If you happen to be one of the three prized racial groups in this or preferred racial groups, you get this 20-point advantage to get admission. But the essay part of your application is only one point.

So what it says is that race is 20 times more important than expressing ideas clearly. That's out of whack. To me that's wrong." -David Brooks, on The News Hour


"What Michigan has is preferences. They do -- there's no question that you get a racial preference. You get 20 points. You get 80 points for a 4.0 GPA, four times as much as you get for that. You get points too if you have special skills, like you're an athlete. You get points if you're geographically diverse. There are all kinds of things you can get.

Michigan decides they -- everybody does better if you have a more diverse student body". -Al Hunt on Capital Gang


"I assume I got a 20-point preference to get on this panel, otherwise there'd be a man sitting here." -Margaret Carlson, Capital Gang


Asked on Meet the Press if she might be President Bush's running mate in 2004 or run for President in 2008, Condoleezza Rice replied, "I've never run for anything. I don't think I'd be a very effective candidate." She repeated her interest in being Commissioner of the National Football League and predicted a Raiders-Bucs match-up in the Super Bowl, with the Oakland Raiders prevailing.


Secretary Powell, Condi Rice, and Secretary Rumsfeld were all asked about the possibility that other nations or an internal uprising might topple Saddam Hussein. All expressed cautious potential support for such a move, disputing Bob Novak on Capital Gang:

But the last thing that the hawks inside the administration, and their friends outside the administration, want is a coup d'etat that would replace Saddam Hussein. They want a war as a manifestation of U.S. power in the world and as a sign that the United States is capable of changing the balance of power and the political map of the Middle East.


Unprovoked, NPR's Juan Williams tried to defend and explain the peace demonstrators' use of the slogan, "No blood for oil" on Fox News Sunday. Brit Hume and Bill Kristol, seemingly shocked by what they saw as his naiveté, pointed out that the US was already getting Iraqi oil and could get all it wanted by lifting the sanctions.


From The News Hour:

Mark Shields: "Now with Gore out, it's pander bear city. The Democrats will be pandering to each constituency, all of them trying to get the McCain mantle and at the same time being the anti-McCain by just caressing all the erogenous zones for the body politic."

David Brooks: "Yeah, but the Republican Party, we actually don't have erogenous zones."

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PunditWatch is written by JWR contributor Will Vehrs. Comment by clicking here.

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12/30/02: Peripatetic Powell pacifies pundits
12/23/02: A Lott to let go before Fristing
12/16/02: Lott jury and flogging post
12/09/02: Issues overwhelm pundits
12/02/02: Real news and pundit news
11/25/02: In a muddle, Saudis rise to the top


© 2002, Will Vehrs