The Blog

Take a Stand in Michigan

Republicans have a habit of becoming tongue-tied on affirmative action. President Bush has a chance to speak up clearly for conservative principles. He should take it.

11:00 PM, Jan 14, 2003 • By LEE BOCKHORN
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Yesterday I dropped by the American Enterprise Institute to hear David Frum discuss his new book about President Bush, "The Right Man." He observed that the president is often strategically bold (witness his new tax cut package, or his long-term vision for democracy promotion in the Middle East) while simultaneously being tactically cautious, sometimes to a fault.

Let's hope Bush views filing a brief in the Michigan cases as a chance to demonstrate strategic boldness rather than tactical timidity, because the GOP desperately needs some strategic boldness on race issues. Republicans can never do enough to win the favor of the now-desiccated "civil rights" establishment (e.g., the NAACP, Jesse Jackson). Better to ignore them and appeal to the vast majority of Americans, of all races, who believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence: that every American should be treated equally before the law.

The president took a solemn oath to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution of the United States. Many conservatives were thus disappointed when Bush signed a campaign-finance "reform" bill that he admitted contained provisions the courts would likely find unconstitutional. I hope Bush and his political advisers aren't tempted to go this route once again, by staying out of the Michigan cases and leaving it to the court to clean up the mess. Not only would this be politically short-sighted, it would be a rank abdication of the president's constitutional duty. But I'm holding out hope that President Bush will do the right thing, and defend America's most fundamental principles by helping end the perverse admissions practices of my alma mater.

Lee Bockhorn is associate editor at The Weekly Standard.