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Bill Bennett Doesn't Get It. Trying To Defend His Racially Insensitive Comments On Hannity & Colmes, He Misses At Least Half The Reason People Were Offended

Reported by Ellen - September 30, 2005

Bill Bennett appeared on Hannity & Colmes last night to talk about his controversial remarks about abortion and blacks made earlier in the week on his radio show. But his explanation seemed to indicate he didn't understand what the outcry is really about.

As ABC News described the incident on Bennett's radio show:

On the Wednesday edition of his radio show, "Bill Bennett's Morning in America," syndicated by Salem Radio Network, a caller raised the theory that Social Security is in danger of becoming insolvent because legalized abortion has reduced the number of tax-paying citizens. Bennett said economic arguments should never be employed in discussions of moral issues.

If it were your sole purpose to reduce crime, Bennett said, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.

"That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," he added.

In last night's "exclusvie interview" on Hannity & Colmes, Bennett seemed to think that the problem with his remarks was that people thought he was saying black babies should be aborted. That seemed to be the issue he wanted to clairfy, not his connection with blacks and crime. He complained to Alan Colmes about his quote being taken out of context. "When ("morally reprehensible") is included in the quote, (that) makes it perfectly clear what my position is." Without that phrase, Bennett said, it looked as though he supports such a "monstrous idea."

Bennett either ignored or overlooked how people such as Congressman John Conyers felt when he stated in a letter to the Salem Radio Network, "The fact that Mr. Bennett later acknowledged that such abortions would be "morally reprehensible," but added again that if it was done "the crime rate would go down," is equally outrageous."

Hannity also seemed to miss that point. With his most sincere face and tapping his hand on his heart (which one of our readers has said is a "tell"), Hannity's main defense of Bennett was to attack others who attacked him. "This notion as being alleged by prominent Democrats that Bill Bennett has any racist bone in his body is appalling to me."

From there, Hannity launched his usual onslaught against Robert Byrd, for being in the KKK a lifetime ago, and against Charles Rangel, for his Bull Connor remark of a few days ago. Bennett assailed Ted Kennedy for Chappaquidick, saying he should make no moral judgments against anyone. Comment: What did any of that have to do with Bennett's comments? Nothing.

In fact, Bennett seemed to affirm his statement that more blacks mean more crime."When I was drug czar, you bet we were working on the issue of black crime, Alan and Sean. Because there was a lot of crime in the black community."

Later, he pointed to his wife's record as an anti-abortionist as proof of his own racial sensitivity. "When it comes to abortion, my wife's program, Best Friends, has kept more young women from having abortions... than the entire Black Caucus. She has done more for inner city black girls than the entire Black Caucus. So I will not bow my head to any of these people. I will not give up the ground of compassion and sympathy."

Bennett claimed that the connection between abortion and lower crime rates came from the book Freakonomics. But Media Matters reports that the book "did not put forth Bennett's race-based argument." Alan Colmes tried to address Bennett's connection between race and crime but Bennett did not respond. Instead, he attacked Colmes for being "all over me" on his own radio show the night before. Bennett said, "I've had a thousand opportunities when people have said to me, 'What about that Alan Colmes? Isn't he a jerk? Is he a liberal this?' I've always said, 'He's always a gentleman, he's always nice to me.'" Comment: Gee, what a pal!

Props to Colmes for not backing down. He said, repeatedly, that he and his callers were "shocked" by Bennett's remarks.

Bennett clung to the notion that it was all a misunderstanding and he expressed no remorse for what he said. If anyone was offended, in his view, it was either because they didn't get the full context or because they were too partisan or immoral, themselves, for him to care about. But in his refusal to acknowledge or maybe even see for himself the full context of the offense, he proved that the misapprehension belonged to him.

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