ITWASSOOTED: "What could possibly have possessed Secretary Bennett to say those words, "

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"What could possibly have possessed Secretary Bennett to say those words, "

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor of the House this evening in response to comments made yesterday by William Bennett, former Secretary of Education during the Reagan Administration. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to express my deep disdain and disgust for comments made yesterday by former Reagan Secretary of Education William Bennett on his radio call-in show. He 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.'

"These are shameful words. I am appalled to have to say them on the floor of the House of Representatives. Secretary Bennett's comments reflect a narrow-minded spirit that has no place within American discourse. These words do not give credence to the tremendously difficult past that African Americans have endured. These words do not reflect the values of hope and opportunity for the future.

"Secretary Bennett does not reflect mainstream American values, he did not when he was Secretary of Education and he does not now. He did not when he referred to our public education system as a bloated 'blob.' He did not when he suggested beheading as a 'morally plausible' punishment for drug dealers.

"Leaders are called to higher standards than Secretary Bennett has demonstrated. As Americans still feel the pain of two hurricanes, as Americans still reel from questions about the role that race and poverty played in the government response to these devastating hurricanes.

"While the entire Republican Party does not adhere to this statement, some of their policies can certainly be attributed to this line of thinking. Policies that gut Medicaid, underfund public education, and ignore the challenges of working families. Policies that are indicative of a culture of cronyism and a lack of accountability. Americans will not tolerate this divisiveness.

"We must stand sentry against any hint of racism, any indication of injustice, and any moment of intolerance. Now is not the time for divisive comments. Now is the time for coming together. Now is the time for healing.

"What could possibly have possessed Secretary Bennett to say those words, especially at this time? What could he possibly have been thinking? This is what is so alarming about his words.

"I urge President Bush to renounce this statement, and I call on Secretary Bennett to apologize. I encourage my Republican colleagues to join me on the floor to reject these words and to speak for a future of tolerance and equality. I invite Secretary Bennett and other Republicans to join Democrats in creating solutions to national problems and meeting national needs.

"These words are a direct hit at our children. Secretary Bennett is a writer. He knows that words have power. He knows how powerful these particular words are. An apology is definitely in order and a rejection of these remarks is also in order from the President of the United States."
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