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McCain Campaign: Bill Clinton a "force for good" on race

10:15 AM, Aug 1, 2008 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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This is a stunner. Steve Schmidt, who is now effectively running John McCain's presidential campaign, told Politico's Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith yesterday that "every American should be proud" of Bill Clinton's record on race issues.

"Say whatever you want about Bill Clinton," Schmidt said, "but it's deeply unfair to suggest his criticism of Obama was race-based. President Clinton was a force for unity in this country on this subject. Every American should be proud of his record as both a governor and president. But we knew it was coming in our direction because they did it against a President of the United State of their own party."

Sheesh. I understand what they are trying to do politically, but saying something like this makes McCain own that Clinton record, to some extent. And it's a very mixed record.

For one thing, Clinton strongly opposed a ballot initiative in Michigan two years ago that uses the same language as the one in Arizona that McCain embraced last week. He spoke of the need to "mend" and not "end" affirmative action and yet extended many of the racial preferences that most Americans -- 82 percent according to a recent Newsweek poll -- find so odious. And what about Clinton's "national dialogue on race? According to a New York Times article on the panel, the chairman of the panel "indicated...that no conservatives had been invited to speak because he felt they had nothing to contribute."

And then there was the record of the Clinton Justice Department's shameful use of race at campaign time. Days before the 1998 congressional elections Clinton called on Republicans to "stand up and put a stop" to their alleged minority voter intimidation. "For the last several elections there have been examples in various states of Republicans either actually or threatening to try to intimidate or try to invalidate the votes of African-Americans in precincts that are overwhelmingly African-American -- mostly places where they think it might change the outcome of the election," said Clinton. Attorney General Janet Reno made the same claims, vowing extra security to thwart any GOP attempts to keep minority voters from exercising their rights. And when Republicans asked for evidence -- any evidence -- of their allegedly racist behavior, the Clinton administration and the Justice Department were silent and, in part on the strength of record minority turnout, Democrats bucked historical odds and picked up governorships and seats in the House and Senate.

So the McCain campaign is praising Clinton as a "force for unity" on race despite the fact that he falsely accused McCain's party of racist voter intimidation, and despite the fact that he expressly supports the racial preferences that McCain says he opposes, and despite the fact that the Clinton administration's top man on race once said conservatives have nothing to add to discussions of race?