The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

In 1994, Obama argued for affirmative action, against ‘return to good old-fashioned racism’

As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could decide the future of racial preferences in college admissions, The Daily Caller obtained one of the oldest known audio recordings of President Barack Obama: an October 28, 1994 NPR broadcast in which Obama described opponents of affirmative action and certain welfare programs as favoring racism.

Obama’s remarks came as part of a broadcast review of American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray’s controversial 1994 book, “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.”

Obama accused Murray of racism, and of not caring enough about early childhood education prevention programs like Head Start. (RELATED: Supreme Court takes up affirmative action in major case)

Murray, Obama said, was “interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it’s artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell,” Obama said. “It’s easy to see the basis for Mr. Murray’s calculations.”

Americans’ overall opposition to affirmative action, Obama added, was not rooted in its constitutionality but in a declining economy.

“After watching their incomes stagnate or decline over the past decade, the majority of Americans are in an ugly mood and deeply resent any advantages, real or perceived, that minorities may enjoy,” Obama said.

Obama also spoke in terms of “investment,” a word that he still uses to describe government spending.

“Such ladders of opportunity are going to cost more, not less, than either welfare or affirmative action.  But, in the long run, our investment should pay off handsomely. That we fail to make this investment is just plain stupid. It’s not the result of an intellectual deficit. It’s the result of a moral deficit.”

Obama’s NPR-broadcast criticism of Murray shifted into a litany of liberal policy justifications for affirmative action.

“Real opportunity would mean quality prenatal care for all women and well-funded and innovative public schools for all children … a job at a living wage for everyone who was willing to work, jobs that can return some structure and dignity to people’s lives and give inner-city children something more than a basketball rim to shoot for,” Obama said

Reached for comment, Murray said he doubts Obama ever read his book.

“It must be the first documented case of Obama spouting off without doing his homework — he obviously hadn’t read The Bell Curve,” Murray told The Daily Caller. “We’ve seen a lot of that in the last four years.”