Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV says President Bush is lying. That is a harsh word. But it is a euphemism for what the West Virginia Democrat is really accusing the president of doing. He is really accusing him of resorting to racist demagogy for political gain.
"Republicans want to drive people apart to win elections," Senator Rockefeller told an AFL-CIO conference recently. "They want to turn our attention from what George Bush and Ronald Reagan have been doing for the last 10 years. That's why George Bush is making all that noise about the civil rights bill. That's why he's lying to the American people and to his own conscience, if he has one, about quotas."
The senator compared the president's invoking of "quotas" to his 1988 campaign's Willie Horton commercials. These implied that Gov. Michael Dukakis and the Democratic Party were to blame for coddling brutal black criminals. The commercials seemed clearly racist to many observers. This is the second such attack on President Bush in recent weeks. Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., said in a Senate speech two weeks ago that the president was "appealing to fear" with his talk of quotas in the civil rights bill debate. Senator Bradley also compared this to the use of the Willie Horton ads.