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Wednesday, October 29, 2003


Sharpton looks to kick another donkey...namely Howard Dean

posted by annatopia at Wednesday, October 29, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have completely learned to appreciate Rev. Al Sharpton's presense in the race. He's been witty and engaging, and has brokered peace between the candidates on several occassions. That being said, methinks he needs to take his own advice to heart:

"Howard Dean's opposition to affirmative action, his current support for the death penalty and historic support of the NRA's [National Rifle Association's] agenda amounts to an anti-black agenda that will not sell in communities of color in this country... Any so-called African American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record is mortgaging the future of our struggle for civil rights and social justice."

First of all, I am not sure where Al gets his assertion that Dean is against affirmative action. From CSU-Long Beach for Dean's website:
The University of Michigan does not have a quota system, it never did have a quota system. The word quota is designed foster racial divisiveness and to encourage people to be fearful that other folks are going to take their jobs. That is a disgrace for the President of the United States to ever use that word. And if this were an isolated incident, you might say it was mistaken, but it wasn’t two weeks before that that he renominated Charles Pickering the United States Court of Appeals, who was turned down by the previous Democratic Senate because of his racial insensitivities. Let us not make a mistake about which party it is that wants inclusiveness and diversity in this country.

From the same site, here's Dean on racial profiling:
Let's start calling racial profiling what it is--discrimination based upon race. This is a civil rights issue, and that makes it a federal issue. Racial discrimination is illegal in hiring, housing, and voting. It should be illegal as a law enforcement technique as well. Condemning racial profiling is not enough.... As President, I will direct my Attorney General to use regulatory authority under existing anti-discrimination laws--the 1964 Civil Rights Act--to define racial profiling as discrimination, and to withhold federal funds from departments that violate those regulations.

Those were two quick examples, and I can google up some more if need be. But what Sharpton fails to mention is Dean's longstanging support of affirmative action.
In regards to the death penalty, Dean didn't support that until after 9-11, which he states made him think more broadly about the issue. He supports the death penalty for cop killers, terrorists, and people who commit violent crimes against children. Now, I'm not a death penalty supporter either, and I disagree with Dean on this issue, but Sharpton insinuates that Dean has a long recorded history of DP support without putting it into context. Dean also doesn't support the NRA's agenda. Rather, the NRA gave Dean an A rating. Dean supports the existing federal gun laws (including the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban), would close the gun show loophole, and would allow states to further regulate guns if need be. To claim Dean supports the NRA is quite a leap of logic.
Rep. Jesse Jackson jr has jumped to Dean's defense:
"I also don't understand Rev. Sharpton's attempt to introduce 'race' into the campaign by using such rhetoric as 'anti-black' with respect to Gov. Dean. I challenge all of the other candidates to urge Rev. Sharpton to resist using such inflammatory rhetoric... Clearly, Gov. Dean is not anti-black and it is ridiculous for Rev. Sharpton to compare him to President George Bush in that regard. When it comes to addressing issues that directly affect African Americans, and indirectly affects all Americans, Gov. Dean clearly has good record. Up until this point -- until I indicated my intention to endorse Gov. Dean - the Democratic campaign has been free of such racial rhetoric. I would recommend that it remain so. Such rhetoric will not contribute to defeating George W. Bush in 2004. Indeed, it will insure his re-election."

Rep. Major Owens, another CBC member who's been onboard for quite some time, also defends Dean:
"To achieve our common ground goal of a Democrat in the White House, Howard Dean is the only candidate with a clear enough vision combined with toughness and independence. With respect to African American concerns, Dean starts with an evolving slate. The "doors of his church" are wide open to a broad spectrum of African American leadership. After his election, Howard Dean can be expected to bring into his circle of new national leadership more Black leaders than any of the other candidates. He has this flexibility because he doesn't owe the establishment any dues."

The remark that set Sharpton off was - as was the pattern with the Gephardt attacks - older than dirt. In 1995, Dean said in regards to affirmative action, "You know, I think we ought to look at affirmative action programs based, not on race, but on class and opportunities to participate." Today, he expanded on those old remarks:
Dean called himself a ``vigorous supporter'' of affirmative action and explained the 1995 remark to reporters while in Las Vegas for two private fund-raisers. "That's about help for people who don't have any money, and I think we should do that. But I also think affirmative action has to be about race, and I've said that all throughout this campaign,'' Dean said.

Dean has certainly been consistent on issues of race throughout this campaign, so I think this is a non-issue. I'm sorry Al thought he had to go there - and I'm sure he had the best of intentions - but the accusations are simply false.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.