Bill Clinton and Howard Dean on race


Mickey Kaus has some interesting comparisons between Bill Clinton and Howard Dean on the issue of race. Apparently Dean is using the tired old line that race problems are merely a matter of educating white people about unconscious racism. The far left will hate this classic liberal attitude (that had been drilled into me during freshman orientation at Brown) because it ignores institutional racism that isn't a consequence of unconscious attitudes. Anyone who is at least as far right as Bill Clinton will hate it even more for ignoring problems from within the black community.

A couple of Dean's comments about white practices and attitudes were surprisingly insightful for someone from Vermont, I have to admit. Kaus, unfortunately and probably deliberately, avoids talking about that. Even so, I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone who has really spent any time with black people could think the American black culture is innocent of perpetuating race problems. It's not always conscious, but it's certainly there.

I never knew it about Clinton, but the quote from him rightly directs some harsh criticism toward both whites and blacks. Maybe I'll have to rethink my impression that Clinton never really cared about black people and only said things about race to continue getting Democrats the black vote without a desire to do anything to earn it. (I don't think he really did much, and I'm not sure he would have done the right things, but maybe he had some desire to do so after all.) I don't think this will change my general impression that Democrats as a whole are like that, but maybe Clinton moves closer along the scale toward a balanced outlook on race issues.


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