The Lieberman Coalition

HAYES, STEPHEN F.

The Lieberman Coalition Guess who's coming to the support of his campaign? BY STEPHEN F. HAYES IT'S ODD, TO SAY THE LEASTóJoe Lieberman, first ever Jewish-American presidential candidate, leading...

...Affirmative action has been a tactic that has been used to accomplish equal opportunity," he argued...
...He is breaking barriers...
...She gave him a list of the CBC members thought to be most vulnerable, and Lieber-man contributed to almost 20 of them...
...In an admissions process in which applicants generally need 100 out of a possible 150 points to be accepted, some students are awarded 20 bonus points purely for their membership in a racial group...
...But the senator's critics say the Hilliard contribution is one example of just how far Lieberman is willing to go to win support among black politicians and voters...
...Lieberman's advisers point out that the money was given in late March, several weeks before the primary turned into a bitter referendum on the Middle East...
...But according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll asking black Democrats who they liked best from a list that included Al sharpton, that's exactly what is happening today...
...Maxine Waters, the liberal California Democrat, and others pitched something of a fit about Lieberman at the Democratic Convention...
...Instead, he sided with the right wing of his party, and sent a signal that equal opportunity in higher education is a low priority for his administration...
...Lieberman went further...
...This was an opportunity for the president to demonstrate his commitment to achieving real equality in education...
...Jackson also fired off a four-page letter to Lieberman calling the senator's remarks "particularly irresponsible," later adding that on affirmative action "Lieberman and Jesse Helms are indistinguishable...
...He understands the role of faith in government and American life, and that really resonates with African-American voters," says Donna Brazile, the strategist who ran the Gore-Lieberman campaign in 2000...
...They offer several reasons...
...Lieberman argued that the University of Michigan's admissions process, with its 20 bonus points for preferred pigmentation, is necessary to "realize the promise the Constitution makes to every American...
...Hilliard had a long record of hostility to Israel...
...Michigan's program, after all, is quite clearly one that "grants benefits based on group membership," the kind of program Lieberman once couldn't square with basic American principles...
...After the race, he warned of a "future with a great deal of conflict between African Americans and Jews in this country" and suggested African Americans would seek "retribution" for his loss...
...And I will support affirmative action...
...Last spring, as he waited for Al Gore to decide whether to make another bid for the White House, Lieberman telephoned Eddie Ber-nice Johnson, then head of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask which caucus members he might support with his PAC...
...209, and was simply responding after a reporter read the text of the proposition...
...Representative Maxine Waters said Lieberman must be "vigorously opposed" because "what he's doing is dangerous...
...For after all, if you discriminate in favor of one group on the basis of race, you thereby discriminate against another group on the basis of race...
...Those comments, and countless others like them, led the Hartford...
...Courant to report that Lieberman had become "the Democrats' national symbol for this white frustration" caused by affirmative action...
...A local Connecticut Democratic party chapter circulated a petition to oppose Lieberman's efforts, and Jesse Jackson teamed with the National Organization for Women to sponsor an anti-Lieber-man rally at Yale University, Lieber-man's alma mater...
...some people think that because we have dark skin, we're liberal...
...And since the 2000 campaign ended, even before he knew for sure he would run in 2004, Lieberman spent time cultivating support among African-American leaders in Washington and around the country...
...others, because they're the wrong color, are not...
...It's a shot that might be expected from any of the other Democrats running for president...
...The fact is that some programs grant benefits based on group membership instead of individual ability," he argued in 1995, "and that runs against the grain of a basic principle of American life...
...Would he now, absent any obligation to mimic Al Gore, return to the Old Joe...
...A spokesman says Lieberman did not intend to endorse Prop...
...Hilliard lost in a nasty June primary in which his opponent solicited and received large sums from Jewish Democrats...
...It takes the language and the values underlying the civil rights acts Congress has passed and says not only should we not discriminate against somebody, we shouldn't discriminate in favor of somebody based on the group they represent...
...BY STEPHEN F. HAYES IT'S ODD, TO SAY THE LEASTóJoe Lieberman, first ever Jewish-American presidential candidate, leading the Democratic field in support from black voters...
...But Lieberman supporters and advisers insist that something bigger is happening: Black America loves Joe Lieberman...
...Culturally speaking, African Americans are quite conservative on lots of issues...
...His successor does precisely that...
...Those powerful words were the reason many conservatives paid close attention last week to Lieber-man's thoughts on the Michigan case...
...I do support affirmative action...
...Another, they say, came last week, when Lieberman blasted the Bush administration for filing a brief with the supreme Court opposing the University of Michigan's affirmative action program...
...Helms or not, Lieberman had to explain himself to some skeptical Democrats when Al Gore picked him as his running mate...
...In 1995, Lieberman had strong words for such a system: "Affirmative action is dividing us in ways its creators could never have intended, because most Americans who do support equal opportunity and are not biased don't think it is fair to discriminate against some Americans as a way to make up for historic discrimination against other Americans...
...He speaks the language of values...
...The first explanation most political observers give for this popularity is also the most obvious: name identification...
...In March 1995, Lieberman explained his position to CNN's Judy Woodruff...
...Earl Hilliard of Alabama...
...I am deeply disappointed by the president's decision today," Lieberman said...
...And the admissions programs at Michigan, particularly at the undergraduate level, could hardly provide a clearer example of a racial preference...
...Lieberman sought to put their concerns to rest, declaring: "I have supported affirmative action...
...of all Lieberman's attributes, none is more important than his attentiveness, especially to a constituency wary of being taken for granted...
...The wording camouflaged what it did," says Dan Gerstein, "which was throw the baby out with the bathwater...
...It basically is a statement of American values...
...That's not right...
...Gone is the Lieberman who could say in 1995, "You can't defend policies that are based on group preferences as opposed to individual opportunities...
...Columnist Cynthia Tucker called Hilliard "a loose cannon, a dimwit, and perhaps a crook" who "gained a reputation for trying to persuade his colleagues to vote against pro-Israeli initiatives...
...These assurances, although they settled the issue for Democrats politically, were never entirely convincing because Lieberman had always tended to speak about racial issues in terms of deep beliefs about what it means to be American...
...Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD...
...But the tactic may now have come to a point where it's costing a lot more than it's giving us because anytime you choose somebody for a positionóa job or a spot on a college or a contractóbased on the group they belong to instead of their individual capabilities, you're deciding against somebody for reasons that are unfair and you're also undercutting the basic American premise that this country is all about individuals, not about averages or groups...
...Among his contributions was a $1,000 check to the reelection effort of Rep...
...He refused to sign a resolution in support of Israel's war on terrorism, and sponsored a bill, after September 11, that would have lifted sanctions on states that sponsor terrorism...
...A former vice presidential candidate gets a head start from having his name on the leftover blue and red bumper stickers that still decorate the rear ends of cars across the country...
...Looking at the civil rights initiative in California, I can't see how I could be opposed to it," Lieberman said...
...He infuriated many in his own party when he said he would support California's Proposition 209óa 1996 statewide ballot initiative that banned racial preferencesótaking a step then Governor George W. Bush would not...
...But Lieber-man's own views on racial preferences in the mid-1990s put him arguably to the right of where President Bush is today...

Vol. 8 • January 2003 • No. 19


 
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