September 08, 2005

Democrats Exploit Hurricane Victims In Ad Opposing John Roberts

According to USA Today, MoveOn.org plans to unveil a TV ad using African-American hurricane victims to suggest that minorities will suffer if the Senate confirms John Roberts:

The televised images of poverty-stricken evacuees from Hurricane Katrina are part of a provocative, last-minute effort by a liberal interest group to divert federal Judge John Roberts' path to confirmation as chief justice. MoveOn.org Political Action plans to unveil a TV ad on Monday that questions whether Roberts is sensitive enough to civil rights concerns to lead the Supreme Court. The ad suggests that the plight of the mostly African-American evacuees in New Orleans showed that poverty remains a serious problem among minorities, said Ben Brandzel, the group's advocacy director. In a mix of judicial and racial politics, the ad then suggests that minorities could suffer if the Senate confirms Roberts.

"The connection is obvious," Brandzel said. "The images after Hurricane Katrina show we still live in a society where significant racial inequities exist. We believe John Roberts' record on civil rights ... is clearly not the direction our country needs to head now." Conservative groups such as the Committee for Justice accused their opposition of playing politics with the disaster on the Gulf Coast and saying that the conservative Roberts has favored several legal positions that would benefit minorities and the poor. "It is sickening that some in Washington would politicize a national tragedy," said Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice.

The MoveOn ad is to begin airing on the day that Roberts' confirmation hearings begin in the Senate. Roberts, a former government lawyer who argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court while in private practice, has been under scrutiny since he was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in July. After the death of conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist last weekend, Bush tapped Roberts for chief justice.

Roberts has appeared to be headed for a fairly easy confirmation. But in recent days, liberal groups such as MoveOn and People for the American Way, along with Senate Democrats such as Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, have focused on memos Roberts wrote as a lawyer for the Reagan and first Bush administrations. In the memos, Roberts advocated scaling back affirmative action and argued against a federal program the favored minorities who sought broadcast licenses. Roberts' precise views today are unclear, however, because his role then was to reflect the policies of conservative administrations.

This is simply outrageous. It is really difficult to comprehend how the Democrats at MoveOn.Org can find this ad to be appropriate. What exactly are they trying to accomplish by utilizing the images of African-Americans, who were victims of Hurricane Katrina? Are they trying to insinuate that John Roberts or those who share his political views caused the suffering of these Hurricane victims? Are they trying to insinuate that the confirmation of John Roberts will lead to the mass suffering of African-Americans? Will African-Americans somehow lose their life's possessions and homes because John Roberts is confirmed by the Senate?

At the very least, it appears that the Democrats are clearly trying to suggest that John Roberts is a racist or that his confirmation will lead to mass suffering by African-Americans.

So, what evidence do they present? Is John Roberts a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation or a splinter skin head group? No, of course he is not. Rather, MoveOn.Org believes that John Roberts, who has argued against affirmative action and racial preferences on behalf of previous Republican administrations, must somehow either be a racist or, at the very least, is totally unsympathetic to the plight of African-Americans.

We can put aside the fact that John Roberts, who is a lawyer, was advocating the position of his client - i.e., the particular Republican administrations he worked for. For the sake of discussion, let us assume that John Roberts does not believe in affirmative action. It is no secret that Republicans do not favor affirmative action, however, does this really mean that Republicans are necessarily racist? No, it does not.

Let's take a minute to look at what Affirmative Action really means. Affirmative Action describes governmental programs that provide preferences or benefits to members of certain minority groups based solely on their status as members of those particular minority groups. Put simply, Affirmative Action is reverse discrimination against members of one racial group in favor of members of another racial group. For example, if a non-minority owned company and a minority owned company are competing for a particular government contract and both are equally qualified, Affirmative Action would require that the minority owned company receive the governmental contract. In another example, if a non-minority individual and a minority individual are competing for a job and both are equally qualified, Affirmative Action would require that the minority individual receive the job.

After Adarand v. Pena and other recent Affirmative Action cases before the Supreme Court, governmental use of Affirmative Action has already been greatly restricted. Even if you accept that the confirmation of John Roberts will lead to the end of Affirmative Action, then the result is not that African-Americans will lose their civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Rather, African-Americans would lose racial preferences.

So, the Democrats are arguing that, if John Roberts is confirmed, that Affirmative Action would be entirely dismantled and African-Americans will suffer as a result. What does this tell us of Democratic views of African-Americans? If you are saying that African-Americans require special preferences in order to compete with non-minorities, then aren't you saying that African-Americans are totally incapable of competing against non-minorities without governmental assistance? That is totally ridiculous. Besides, it was always my understanding that African-Americans were seeking equality - not an advantage.

Don't get me wrong. There are clearly circumstances where Affirmative Action is necessary and desirable to correct specific instances of discrimination against African-Americans. However, as is often the case with any governmental program, it has been greatly abused.

The Democrats are unlikely to stop the Roberts confirmation-even with such a clearly incendiary ad. The MoveOn.Org ad is nothing more than a crass attempt to exploit racial politics to the Democrat's favor. The Democrats have enjoyed 90% of the African-American vote and to ensure this continued near-monopoly on the African-American vote, the Democrats are crudely playing upon African-American fears by twisting the truth and exploiting a genuine tragedy.

For others blogging about this story, see Lifelike Pundits.

Update:

According to the National Review, MoveOn.Org has now issued a release indicating that they will not be releasing such an ad:

MoveOn issued a release today claiming they have no intention of producing a TV ad connecting John Roberts to Hurricane Katrina:

“USA Today ran an inaccurate headline in this morning's paper saying that we plan to produce a TV ad that uses the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to criticize Supreme Court nominee, Judge John Roberts. We have no plans, and have never had plans, to produce such an ad. We stand by our criticism, however, that Judge Roberts' record indicates a lack of commitment to protecting and defending civil rights."

Even more surprising, MoveOn actually takes responsibility for the apparent error:

"We regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen because of anything that our staff member might have told USA Today's reporter. We continue to have the highest regard for that reporter's integrity
."

Well, it is possible that the USA Today reporter misunderstood the conversation with the MoveOn.Org staff member. Honestly, it is more likely than not that MoveOn is now claiming the "misunderstanding" to escape the repercussions associated with the inevitable scandal and backlash.

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