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McCain finally endorses campaign to end racial preferences…or does he?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 28, 2008 07:13 AM

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Over the past year, I’ve blogged repeatedly about true maverick and civil rights pioneer Ward Connerly’s Super Tuesday for Equality campaign to end discriminatory government race/gender preferences across the country and urged you to get involved in the multi-state initiative movement (see here, here here, and here.)

As I’ve mentioned to you before, Connerly and his volunteers are an example of principled conservative leadership at its finest. Everywhere they have taken their fight, they have won–and won big–against massive, entrenched liberal opposition, GOP establishment cowardice (see, for example, how Jeb Bush helped strangle Connerly’s efforts in Florida and how the big business and the GOP establishment joined left-wing grievance-mongers and race hustlers in a failed bid to stop the anti-preference movement in Michigan). Connerly’s bitter opponents in both parties blame “racism” and “sexism” for the movement’s huge victories in California, Washington state, and Michigan. The real reason the measures passed with overwhelming margins: Because when push comes to shove, and when equal rights are on the ballot, the majority of Americans of all races and political parties resoundingly reject government social engineering in the name of “diversity,” color-coded treatment, and special preferences in the name of “equality.”

Until this weekend, John McCain had refused to take a position on Connerly’s measures–one of which will likely be on the ballot in Arizona. McCain has been a squish on the issue for years and remains untrustworthy now. He supported minority contracting set-asides and opposed an anti-preference measure proposed in 1998 by an Arizona state senator, which McCain told Hispanic leaders was “divisive.” Stephen Hayes reported in March:

In 1998, as McCain began planning for his presidential bid two years later, Arizona state senator Scott Bundgaard was pushing for a measure similar to Proposition 209. McCain, in a speech to Arizona Hispanic leaders, called such measures “divisive.” He did not directly oppose Bundgaard’s initiative, but news reports at the time claimed that McCain told others in the state legislature that he thought such a measure would be counterproductive. (That same year, McCain joined 14 other Republicans and 43 Democrats to vote in favor of a Department of Transportation set-aside requiring that 10 percent of highway contracts go to minority-owned businesses. Again, news reports suggested that McCain warned his colleagues about appearing divisive.)

By 2000, McCain’s comments as a presidential candidate seemed to reflect a slight shift. In February, McCain told reporters aboard his campaign bus that he opposed racial preferences and quotas. When they asked why he voted for race-conscious programs in the Senate, he told them that he did not want to eliminate the old programs until new programs based on economic need had been implemented to replace them.

But it was what he said before articulating that position that was more revealing. An account in the Orange County Register said McCain was “unfamiliar” with Proposition 209 in California in 1996, which the paper correctly described as having “set the tone for a national movement to ban government preferences based on race and gender.”

A dozen years after that ground-breaking victory, McCain has apparently changed his mind and dropped his opposition to the anti-preference movement–but still hasn’t bothered to familiarize himself with the basics of the anti-preference measures and the principles of equality under the law that undergird them.

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Kevin Kilbane Report: During a “This Week” interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos John McCain reversed himself on affirmative action and endorsed for the first time a proposed state ballot measure which would end race and gender-based affirmative action in his home state of Arizona.

“I support it,” McCain declared when asked about the referendum. “I do not believe in quotas… I have not seen the details of some of these proposals. But I’ve always opposed quotas.”

McCain has long opposed quotas but his new support for ending affirmative action programs which stop short of quotas puts him at odds not only with Democratic rival Barack Obama but also with the Arizona senator’s own views in 1998.

Back then, when the legislature in McCain’s home state of Arizona considered sending the voters a measure to end affirmative action, McCain spoke out against it calling it “divisive.” McCain’s campaign does not dispute that the Arizona senator spoke out against the 1998 effort to end affirmative action in his home state. When asked about the apparent change in position, a McCain spokesman was not able to distinguish the two measures.

“I do not have a firm enough grasp on the historical and relevant context of McCain’s remark in 1998 to give you the pushback that this question deserves,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds told ABC News.

The McCain camp can’t push back because there is no difference between the 1998 measure and the one that citizens in his state may finally have a chance to vote on in November. They can’t explain why it’s not a flip-flop, because it is a giant, XXL one.

If, that is, McCain meant what he said. Big if.

Roger Clegg, a leading activist in the long fight to overturn racial preferences, argues that McCain should be applauded for his remarks yesterday. I must respectfully disagree. McCain’s ridiculous “have not seen the details” clause gives him just the space he needs to renege–and turn his back on conservatives when his open-borders friends and Big Business donors start pressuring him to back off. Like he’s done before.

Bottom line: On yet another major issue so important to grass-roots conservatives, McCain has put expedient politics above demonstrated principle. On immigration. On drilling. And now on an issue that ought to have highlighted the stark differences between two parties and two ideological approaches to civil rights. Instead, McCain has pandered away any credibility he had, tainted diehard anti-preference activists with his cynicism, and sown exactly the kind of divisiveness he’s always accusing movement conservatives of whenever he’s sucking up to left-wing grievance lobbies.

Barack Obama, a lifelong preference-monger, has the wrong convictions on this issue.

McCain doesn’t have any.

You asked for straight talk. You got it.

***

The good news: The movement to abolish government race/gender preferences doesn’t need McCain or the Beltway GOP establishment to win.

Support Super Tuesday for Equality here.

The Colorado Springs Gazette endorses Amendment 46:

It will be a great day for scholars – red and yellow, black and white – when state-sponsored racism finally ends. If Coloradans approve Amendment 46 in November – the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative – the University of Colorado and other public institutions of learning will have to stop discriminating on a basis of sex and race and such. As it stands today, the University of Colorado blatantly uses racial discrimination practices that are part of its official admissions policies and procedures. If approved, the Civil Rights Initiative would say: “The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any group or individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public contracting, or public education.”

Unfortunately, the amendment doesn’t protect against “religious” discrimination, which is rampant on state university campuses. But that may be another amendment for another election. For now, voters have the option to eliminate five categories of government discrimination.

Up in Boulder, university officials are scrambling to figure out their strategy in the likely event this amendment should pass. That branch of the university alone must select for admission fewer than half of 23,000 applications a year. Race is a consideration whenever possible. The biggest problem for the university is that minorities seldom apply. For years, the Boulder campus has struggled with racial crimes and complaints that say the mostly white campus is generally hostile to ethnic and racial minorities. School oficials, with sincerely noble intentions, have tried to address the problem by enrolling more ethnic and racial minorities, simply because they are minorities. Amendment 46 would end that practice.

A more minority-friendly environment at the state’s flagship campus is a laudable goal. Racist admissions policies, however, are not the solution.

Would that the GOP presidential candidate could articulate this position as clearly and convincincly.

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