Saturday, October 01, 2005

Spin All You Want, Bill!

On the September 29 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett defended comments he made the day before linking crime rates and abortion by blacks. Bennett, who said that "it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime ... you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," claimed that he was taken out of context, and that his comment was based on a 1999 online discussion between Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics (William Morrow, May 2005), and right-wing columnist Steve Sailer, in which Bennett claimed that Levitt "discusse[d], as I did, the racial implications of abortion and crime." Levitt did not. In fact, in the Slate debate that Bennett cited, Levitt said the opposite of what Bennett claimed: "None of our analysis is race-based because the crime data by race is generally not deemed reliable."


The only significant discussion of race during the Slate debate came from Sailer on day two. Sailer writes for the anti-immigration website and has defended the Pioneer Fund -- an organization designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its support of the work of white supremacists, eugenicists, and others dedicated to proving the genetic superiority of certain races.

So Bennett is defending his comments by saying someone put words into his mouth? And it only turns out that the person doing that was Bennett himself?

By the way, posted an interview Bennett gave to Sean Hanitty of Fox News, in which he burnishes his, errrrr, liberal credentials by talking about his wife's charity, Best Friends Foundation. Let me post the mission statement...

Since this is so hard to read, let me quote from another page on the website:
Best Friends provides a character-building curriculum with an abstinence-only philosophy, an intensive peer support structure, and long-term adult involvement.
Sounds more like the flip side of Bill's Final Solution, if you ask me. But wait, there's more!

As Crooksandliars also reported yesterday, Bennett made the rounds of the morning talk shows in a desperate attempt to salvage his image.

Here's what he said on ABC's "Good Morning America" (again, courtesy of Mediamatters)

I was pointing out that abortion shouldn't be opposed for economic reasons any more than racism should be supported or opposed for economic reasons. Immoral policies are wrong. And they're wrong because they're wrong, not because of an economic calculus. One could just as easily have said you could abort all children and prevent all crime, uh, which is certainly true, to show the absurdity of the situ -- of the proposition. So let me repeat: These are matters which scholars talk about, which people write books about, which are debated in public policy relations among abortion, crime, and race. That's what we were talking about. Sensitive area, absolutely.

As a philosopher, I was showing the limitation of one argument by showing the absurdity of another. I was showing the fallacy of a proposition by using what's called an argumentum ad absurdum or an argumentum ad finum. But in sum, let me just re-state what I said yesterday: The whole idea of aborting anyone to reduce crime is, as I said on the air yesterday, "impossible, ridiculous, and morally-reprehensible." That should end it. That should be clear enough to anyone with an open mind. This whole thing is ridiculous, totally without merit. People will keep yelling about it, but -- you have a comment, Seth [Liebsohn, Morning in America producer]?

Huh? Suddenly the right has been reduced to philosophizing about the world?

There's an old saying in politics: When your opponent is drowning, don't throw him a lifeline. Now, I actually like the Bennett family (his brother defended Clinton during the Paula Jones case), so I'm going to break that rule and toss him a Life Saver (candy).

You know what the solution is, Bill?


Here's what you say: "I said something that was reprehensible in the public square. I'm sorry. I offended an entire population of this country with my words, which were inartful at the least and destructive at the worst. I will not let it happen again."

And then shut the fuck up and go play some blackjack.

Did you learn nothing from your Book of Virtues?

To quote: "If we want young people to take right and wrong seriously, there is an indispensable condition: They must be in the presence of adults who take right and wrong seriously."

This week has shown you to be both a bigot and a hypocrite.
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