He e-mailed this about the Bennett tempest, which seems not to want to go away–it came up at the Bush press conference today:
I know Bill Bennett. Bill Bennett is a friend of mine. There are few individuals who have such moral clarity about race as Bill Bennett. To his credit–and it is one of the things that I admire about him–Bill is honest and forthright. To say, in essence, that the overall crime rate is substantially influenced by the level of crime among blacks is not news. Look at the demographics of our prisons to affirm this fact. It is only when such a fact is said in such a blunt manner, and coupled with the factor of abortion, that it takes on such a harsh and “controversial” tone. In our society, there are some things that one cannot say without engendering the wrath of one’s opponents and other timid souls. Discussing race and abortion is a form of double jeopardy. But, was Bill Bennett wrong in terms of his facts or the point that he was making? No! Would I have made such a statement in that manner, even with the qualification that Bill made following his comment about the reprehensibility of the point that he was making? No! And, the reason I would not do such a thing is because I have learned that race is such a treacherous topic that one must pick his spots very carefully in discussing the matter. However, Bill’s comment does not warrant the condemnation that he is receiving. President Bush remarked that Bill’s comment was “inappropriate.” Yes, Mr. President, but was it accurate? And, is Bill’s comment a reminder that the crime rate among blacks needs to be reduced so that blacks are not committing crimes at any rate that is higher than the rate among other “groups” of people? I am certain that there are a lot of black people in predominantly black neighborhoods who would second that motion.