Pol Tested

Chait, Jonathan
February 2003
New Republic;2/3/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 4, p14
If you watched U.S. President George W. Bush announce his opposition to the University of Michigan's affirmative action program, you probably came away with the impression that the president's position is a highly unpopular one. Bush's political body language was entirely defensive--from his speech to his legal reasoning to the calculated leak that African American foreign policy adviser Condoleezza Rice had helped shape his position. Bush's opposition to racial preferences, however, is anything but a fringe right-wing view. The paradox of Bush's cringing opposition to racial preferences is that, among all his contested stances, it is the one in which he is most closely in sync with public opinion and his critics most out of step. Critics of racial preferences insist that Republicans get in trouble on affirmative action because of their skittishness. Because Republicans are widely considered suspect on race all that comes across is that a conservative is attempting to dismantle civil rights laws.


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