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Jewish World Review March 7, 2001 / 12 Adar, 5761

David Limbaugh

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Consumer Reports


The GOP and race revisited


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- I ALMOST fell out of my chair watching Fox News Sunday when liberal Juan Williams questioned whether the black community's unflagging support of Bill Clinton could be attributable to something other than Clinton serving the black community's interests.

"You think about criminals, people in jail for far less, you think about the problems in the schools that Mr. Bush is now attempting to deal with, you think about racial profiling, things that didn't get done under the Clinton watch. And you start to scratch your head and say, 'Wait a minute, is this more of a cult attitude? It's sort of OK to like Bill Clinton, and you're supposed to, but really, what did we get for it?' And you start to wonder," said Williams.

I think Williams is tacitly admitting a point he may not have intended to make. Sure, a part of Clinton's popularity among blacks could have to do with a cult of personality. But Clinton's personality would have scored him no political points with blacks if he had not been tied to the Democratic Party.

Let's go beyond Bill Clinton. Could the black community's support of the Democratic Party itself also have to do with something other than issues? Isn't Williams acknowledging this when he hints that Clinton may not have done all that much for black causes apart from paying them lip service? And isn't Williams implicitly praising Republican President Bush for reaching out in education and racial profiling?

Williams seems to be confirming the opinion of certain black conservatives who have suggested that blacks by and large identify with the Democratic Party and exert peer pressure on each other to belong. Even when Democrats ignore their best interests (as in opposing school choice, which polls show the majority of blacks favor), blacks give them a pass, presumably because they don't trust Republicans.

This could be good and bad news for Republicans. The good news is that the first step toward solving a problem is to admit the problem. Well, Williams doesn't expressly admit that this identity phenomenon of black support applies to the Democratic Party, just Bill Clinton. Plus, he hardly concedes that it is a problem. But he may, if pressed, confess both points.

The bad news is that if black support for Democrats is largely a product of group-identity, it makes the Republicans' task much more difficult. If their support is more emotional than issue-oriented, how are Republicans ever going to reach them?

Hold on. Black group-support for the Democrats may not be so much about issues now, but I dare say it must have begun that way. Blacks used to identify with the Republicans as the party of Lincoln and emancipation. At some point, perhaps the New Deal, this loyalty eroded, and then later, perhaps during the Civil Rights movement, it completely evaporated, shifting to the Democrats.

These issues may have been the triggering mechanism, but ultimately, blacks appear to support the party they perceive to be more concerned with their welfare. Before being able to reach blacks on the issues, Republicans are going to have to work on changing the blacks' perception that the GOP is unconcerned about them as a group.

What better guy is there for such a task than George Bush? I'll never forget the time I met him when he made it very clear that he was passionate about turning old stereotypes on their heads. He promised that he would make Al Gore sweat for every last vote, including the minority constituencies he took for granted.

Well, the election is history, and while Bush may have reached many individual blacks, he couldn't get a significant number of them to break away from the group (Gore got 90 percent of the black vote).

Republicans, then, are confronted with a paradox. They think of people as individuals, not as members of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, age, gender or religious groups. Yet they will have to break through this barrier of the blacks' group identity with Democrats in order to reach the individuals.

But there is actually no contradiction. Republicans, without being defensive, must try to persuade blacks (as a group) that they are not against them, while offering colorblind solutions directed at individuals.

A recognition that Democrats are often more exploitive than supportive of blacks is the first step. I'm not saying that Williams' statement constitutes a watershed moment for the Republicans' relationship with blacks, but hopefully it is a harbinger of more meaningful breakthroughs in the future. conviction.



David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney apracticing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.

Up

03/05/01: Dems and the ghost of 2002
02/28/01: Common threads in Clinton pardons
02/26/01: Clinton defenders should apologize
02/22/01: Clinton woos media as Bush governs
02/20/01: Liberal idealism: Where have all the flowers gone?
02/14/01: The Clintons and selective media outrage
02/12/01: Bush's tax cut challenge: A historical view
02/07/01: Democrats' Dubya dilemma
02/05/01: Dubya is confounding the media
01/29/01: The Teamsters, the DNC and the reformers
01/29/01: The Old Limey
01/25/01: Clintonís disgraceful departure
01/22/01: Ashcroft: Principle above self
01/17/01: Justice for Riady?
01/15/01: Ashcroft: A hill to die on
01/10/01: Returning to the supply side
01/08/01: Reasons for optimism
01/03/01: Bush's daunting challenges
12/28/00: Ashcroft: A triumph for the rule of law
12/26/00: A tinge of revenge?
12/20/00: GOP: Breaking the race barrier
12/18/00: Civility doesn't require surrender
12/13/00: Al Gore: Innocent victimizer
12/11/00: Judicial restraint and ordered liberty
12/06/00: The four years war
12/04/00: Debunking Gore myths
11/29/00: Defending the smaller principles
11/27/00: Albert O'Gore and the little people
11/22/00: Doing 'anything to win'
11/15/00: Enough is enough, Mr. Gore
11/13/00: Al Gore: Thy country or thyself?
11/08/00: Bill and Al: Your time is up
11/06/00:The impending Bush mandate
11/01/00: Can't stop thinkin' 'bout tomorrow
10/30/00: George: Give Gore the ball back
10/25/00: Mr. Gore: A few more questions
10/23/00: It's the big government, stupid
10/18/00: Gore's down, so will he panic?
10/16/00: We're fresh out of new Al Gores
10/11/00: Gore: Fuzzy math = dirty politics
10/10/00:Gore: Renaissance man or unbalanced?
10/04/00: Where have you been, Albert Jr.?
10/02/00: Clintonís fragmented presidency
09/27/00: Liberal media doth protest too much
09/25/00: AlGore: Turning dreams into nightmares
09/20/00: Something fishy's going on
09/18/00: It's the liberalism, stupid
09/13/00: An open letter to open-minded cynics
09/11/00: The virtues of going negative
09/06/00: On a mission for marriage
09/04/00: Al Gore's 'Trivial Pursuits'
08/30/00: Lieberman and the paradox of liberal 'tolerance'
08/28/00: A campaign divided against itself
08/23/00: Al Gore's trickle-down populism
08/21/00: Prosperity without a clue
08/16/00: AlGore can run but he can't hide
08/14/00: When hate speech is OK
08/09/00: Bush: The pundits' enigma
08/07/00: GOP convention: Live or Memorex?
08/02/00: The first attack dog
07/31/00: The Cheney taint?
07/26/00: The anti-gun bogeyman
07/24/00: The raging culture war
07/19/00: Is Hillary 'Good for the Jews'?
07/17/00: How dare you, George?
07/12/00: Jacoby's raw deal
07/10/00: The perplexities of liberalism
07/05/00: Big Al and big oil
07/03/00: Partial-birth and total death
06/28/00: Some questions for you, Mr. Gore
06/26/00: Supreme Court assaults religious freedom
06/21/00: Waco: We are the jury
06/19/00: "Outrage" just doesn't quite cut it anymore!
06/14/00: Al Gore: Government's best friend
06/12/00: Say goodbye to medical privacy
06/07/00: Elian: Whose hands were tied?
06/05/00: Who, which, what is the real Al Gore?
06/01/00: Legacy-building idea for Clinton
05/30/00: Clinton: Above the law or not?
05/24/00: Not so fast, Hillary
05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
05/17/00: Can Bush risk pro-choice running mate?
05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?

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