Republicans are talking about term limits and a balanced-budget amendment. The Clintons are dominating the political conversation. Unemployment is falling.
And in case these 1990s throwbacks weren’t quite enough, suddenly Charles Murray’s name is in the news again.
Asked to elaborate on his concerns about family formation, [former Gov. Jeb Bush] twice praised author Charles Murray, best known for his highly controversial 1994 book which touches on racial differences in I.Q., for his later research into the rise of single motherhood.“My views on this were shaped a lot by Charles Murray’s book,” Bush said.
The Republican presidential hopeful added, “I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess.”
As it happens, “nerd” isn’t the first word that comes to mind.
It’s important to emphasize that Bush, while praising Murray, did not applaud “The Bell Curve” specifically. He was probably referring to the controversial author’s other work.
That said, as Benjy Sarlin noted on Twitter, it’s a tough pitch for a national candidate: “Say, have you read this guy’s book? No not the one about racial IQ’s, the one about white America….”
TPM’s report added some helpful context:
Murray is the author of the highly influential 1984 book Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 which argued that social welfare programs of the 1960s and 1970s actually hurt the poor rather than helped. It was and remains a seminal work in the conservative policy canon.Ten years later Murray authored the highly controversial The Bell Curve, which he co-authored with Richard Herrnstein. Critics denounced it as racist, saying it essentially argued that African-Americans aren’t as intelligent as white Americans because of genetic differences. In 1994 Bob Herbert, then a columnist at The New York Times, described the book as a “scabrous piece of racial pornography masquerading as serious scholarship.”
Despite the controversy surrounding “The Bell Curve,” Murray’s work remains popular among prominent Republicans. About a year ago, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made provocative comments about “inner-city” men who are “not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” At the same time, the Republican congressman pointed to Charles Murray’s work.