I suppose it will surprise no one that I favor what others call blind partisanship. But hear me out; my reasons go well beyond "what hurts my enemy helps me."
The definition--my definition, I should say--of a political "gaffe" is a statement that allows a public figure to be easily caricatured: a statement that seems to expose the worst tendencies of the speaker. Howard Dean's scream = unhinged madman, John Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it" = unprincipled flip-flopper, and on and on. Neither of these examples were anything like the genesis of the candidate's caricature, but by taking an abstract notion and giving it a concrete embodiment, it was the gaffe that served to cement the notion in voters' minds.
Here is what Bennett said:
I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.To be sure, this statement was proceeded by a disavowal of the morality of such an endeavor. This disavowal is exactly as relevant as the argument that, for legal purposes in the Lewinsky case, it really did matter what the definition of "is" was.
Bennett explicitly suggested that blacks are responsible for crime, but more importantly, he did so from an on-high aerial view ("every black baby") that befits a phony hypocritical blowhard. So explain to me again why the left shouldn't use this statement to portray him as a phony hypocritical blowhard? Political battles are fought on political terrain, and anyone who makes a living in the political arena knows exactly the career risks posed by gaffes and soundbites. This is how the business operates.
Given that Bennett doesn't actually want all black babies to be aborted (phew!), I'd say that his remarks shouldn't disqualify him from operating a Shakey's Pizza or manufacturing ceramic ducks for a living. But advising America on morality? Avoiding the appearance of racism is a non-negotiable part of that job description.
There is such a thing as overreaching, and after a handful of political wins (some of them merely symbolic) Dems should be wary of it. Demanding an apology from Bill Bennett isn't it.