Images, Scandal, and Communication Strategies of the Clinton Presidency

By Robert E. Denton; Rachel L. Holloway | Go to book overview

6
Seven Lessons from President
Clinton’s Race Initiative: A Post-
Mortem on the Politics
of Desire

Patricia A. Sullivan and Steven R. Goldzwig

“How we deal with the race issue indicates the kind of people we
Americans actually are, as opposed to the kind we would like to think
of ourselves as being.”

—Glenn C. Loury1

“[I]n almost every area of human endeavor, opportunities do not last
forever; they must be seized.”

—William Jefferson Clinton2

“If wishes were horses we all would ride.”

—Anonymous

Much attention has been paid to William Jefferson Clinton’s 1997 race initiative, which the president and his advisory panel labeled “One America.”3 This controversial, fifteen-month-long, hydra-headed effort garnered voluminous and sustained print and electronic media coverage. An array of sometimes heated responses emanated from the public, the press, professional political operatives, and academics alike. All of these parties have assiduously probed the events associated with the campaign and struggled with fundamental questions such as the race initiative’s ultimate meaning, the nature of its successes and failures, and its implications for the future. Since the materials on this subject are vast, they are also, at times, contradictory. Even if one uncovers a consensus—such as the judgment that Clinton’s race initiative was a failure—people on the left and

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