In a recent interview with National Review editor Rich Lowry, Jeb Bush hardly missed a beat in professing his adulation for pundit Charles Murray.
“I like the Charles Murray books, which means I’m a total nerd, I guess. He wrote the book about the Columbian Exposition, the Chicago World’s Fair. I love that guy. I’m reading all his books right now…[I’d] recommend those books.”
Bookishness is a trait we can get behind in a political candidate. Tacit support for flagrant racism? Less so.
Murray is best known as the co-author of The Bell Curve, an exploration of the factors contributing to human intelligence, which includes the statement, “it seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences."
Former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert described the book as "a scabrous piece of racial pornography masquerading as serious scholarship” and “a genteel way of calling somebody [an n-word].”`
Well! we hear you say. Racist ideology was often embedded in the literature of the past. Huckleberry Finn isn’t exactly a cakewalk for today’s progressive, but we still find literary merit in it!
Sure, except that The Bell Curve was written in 1994, i.e. not a vestige of long-gone racism.
Maybe Bush is able to separate the good from the bad in Murray’s body of work?
But Bush did insist on a rather effusive and wide-ranged love for, quote, all of Murray’s books.
Not to mention that you can’t blink without stumbling upon a fresh bit of questionable thinking in Murray’s opus. In By the People, Murray depicts a “libertarian fantasy where much of our nation’s regulatory and welfare state has been dismantled.” And while he’s taking down welfare, he’d also like a legal defense fund which, “if just one wealthy American cared enough to contribute, say, a few hundred million dollars,” could give that individual veto power over much of US Law.
ThinkProgress puts it excellently:
“It’s possible that no American has done more to advance the cause of monarchy since Benedict Arnold.”
Bush lauded Murray’s books no less than two separate times during the interview, which further suggests that his stated affections were less “poorly thought through” and more “unthinkable.”