How many Democrats know that their hero, their John Wayne -- President John F. Kennedy -- opposed preferences? According to a 1963 U.S. News & World Report story, President Kennedy said, "I don't think we can undo the past. In fact, the past is going to be with us for a good many years in uneducated men and women who lost their chance for a decent education. We have to do the best we can now. That is what we are trying to do. I don't think quotas are a good idea. I think it is a mistake to begin to assign quotas on the basis of religion or race -- color -- nationality. . . . On the other hand, I do think that we ought to make an effort to give a fair chance to everyone who is qualified -- not through a quota -- but just look over our employment rolls, look over our areas where we are hiring people and at least make sure we are giving everyone a fair chance. But not hard and fast quotas. . . . We are too mixed, this society of ours, to begin to divide ourselves on the basis of race or color."
Ward Connerly, the man who pioneered California's Proposition 209 (the successful effort to abolish state-sponsored race- and gender-based preferences), makes an interesting point. Defenders of affirmative action say we need it because "the playing field remains un-level." Mrs. Edwards' husband supports affirmative action -- that is, preferences for the "disadvantaged." Yet according to Mrs. Edwards, the playing field no longer tilts against disadvantaged minorities. It now tilts against people like her white male husband.
Mrs. Edwards may be onto something. An examination of a select group of 28 colleges and universities shows that when a black applicant scored between 1250 and 1300 out of 1600 on his or her SAT, the student stood a three-in-four chance of getting admitted. When, however, a white student scored between 1250 and 1300, he or she stood a one-in-four chance of admission. And in "Civil Rights," author/economist Thomas Sowell writes, "Black college-educated couples with husband and wife working had by 1980 achieved incomes higher than white couples of the same description."
The Supreme Court in 2003, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the use of race as a criterion in college admissions. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, writing the decision for the majority, said that society needs racial preferences for another 25 years to right past wrongs.
Mrs. Edwards apparently thinks society paid the mortgage off early.