William Bennett

William Bennett

Infobox US Cabinet official
name=William J. Bennett

title=United States Secretary of Education
term_start=February 6, 1985
term_end=September 20, 1988
predecessor=Terrell Bell
successor=Lauro Cavazos
president=Ronald Reagan
order2=1st Director of the National Drug Control Policy
appointed2=George H. W. Bush
successor2=Bob Martinez
birth_date=birth date and age|1943|07|31
birth_place=Brooklyn, New York
spouse=Elayne Bennett

William John Bennett (born July 3, 1943) is an American neoconservative pundit, politician, and political theorist. He served as United States Secretary of Education from 1985 to 1988. He also held the post of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (or "Drug Czar") under George H. W. Bush.

Bennett was born in Brooklyn but later moved to Washington, D.C., where he attended Gonzaga College High School. He graduated from Williams College and went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in Political Philosophy. He also has a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

From 1976 to 1981 he was the executive director of the National Humanities Center, a private research facility in North Carolina. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him to head the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he served until Reagan appointed him Secretary of Education in 1985. It was in 1986 that Bennett switched from the Democratic to the Republican party. Bennett resigned from this post in 1988, and later that year was appointed to the post of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by President George H. W. Bush. He was confirmed by the Senate in a 97-2 vote.

Bennett is a member of the National Security Advisory Council of the Center for Security Policy (CSP). He was co-director of Empower America and was a Distinguished Fellow in Cultural Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Long active in United States Republican Party politics, he is now an author, speaker, and, since April 5 2004, the host of the weekday radio program "Morning in America" on the Dallas, Texas-based Salem Communications. In addition to his radio show, he is the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute. Further work at the Claremont Institute includes his role as Chairman of [http://www.claremont.org/projects/projectid.35/project_detail.asp Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT).] He is also a political analyst for CNN.

Bennett and his wife, Elayne, have two sons, John and Joseph. Elayne is the President and Founder of [http://www.bestfriendsfoundation.org/ Best Friends Foundation] , a nationwide abstinence-based program for adolescents. He is the brother of prominent Washington attorney Robert S. Bennett.

Political viewpoints

Bennett tends to take a conservative position on affirmative action, school vouchers, curriculum reform, and religion in education. As Education Secretary, he asked colleges to better enforce drug laws, supported a classical education rooted in Western culture, and derided multicultural courses. He frequently criticized schools for low standards. In fact, in 1988, he called the Chicago public school system "the worst in the nation." [ [http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1124.html Schools and Education ] ]

Bennett has tangled with the educational establishment (which he dubbed "the blob" or bloated educational bureaucracy) over the following reform measures, which he espoused:

* Competency testing for teachers
* Opening the teaching profession to knowledgeable individuals who have not graduated from "schools of education"
* Performance-based pay
* Holding educators accountable for how much children learn
* An end to tenure
* A national examination to find out exactly how much our children know
* Parental choice of schools [ [http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0671797190/ (The De-Valuing Of America, page 44)] ]

Bennett is a staunch supporter of the War on Drugs and has been criticized for his views on the issue. On a television show, he said that a viewer's suggestion of beheading drug dealers would be "morally plausible." [ [http://www.nndb.com/people/493/000022427/ (on a June 15th, 1989 appearance on Larry King Live)] ]

Bennett is an opponent of same-sex marriage.

In 1995, he teamed up with C. Delores Tucker to create advertising to target Time Warner's lack of regulation of gangsta rap and its glorification of violence and denigration of women. Bennett is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signers of the January 26, 1998 PNAC Letter [ [http://www.theindyvoice.com/pnac The Indy Voice..."Be the change you want to see in the world." » Project New American Century ] ] sent to President Bill Clinton urging Clinton to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power.

He has said that the US has a moral duty to support Israel, and that Palestinians are Jordanians. [ [http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWU2M2YyNjFmZDViZmVkN2I2OGEyNjAwOWU1YzQ3ZDM= William J. Bennett on Israel on National Review Online ] ] [ [http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-bennett072203.asp William J. Bennett on Israel & Terrorism on National Review Online ] ]


Bennett's best-known written work may be "" (1993), which he edited; he has also authored and edited ten other books, including "The Children’s Book of Virtues" (which inspired an animated television series) and "The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals" (1998).

Other books:

*"America: The Last Best Hope (Volume II): From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom" (2007)
* [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1595550550 "America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War"] (2006)
*"Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism" (2003)
*"The Broken Hearth: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family" (2001)
*"The Educated Child: A Parent's Guide from Preschool through Eighth Grade" (1999)
*"Our Sacred Honor" (1997, compilation of writings by the Founding Fathers)
*"Body Count: Moral Poverty...and How to Win America's War Against Crime and Drugs" (1996)
*"Moral Compass: Stories for a Life's Journey" (1995)
*"The De-Valuing of America: The Fight for Our Culture and Our Children" (1992)


Bennett writes for National Review Online, "National Review" and "Commentary".

Radio and television programs

Bennett is currently the host of [http://www.bennettmornings.com/ Morning in America] , a nationally syndicated radio program produced and distributed by Salem Communications. The show airs live weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. Eastern Time; it is one of the only syndicated conservative talk shows in the morning drive time slot. However, its clearances are limited due to a preference for local shows in this slot, and the show gets most of its clearances on Salem-owned outlets.

In 2008, Bennett became the host of a CNN weekly talk show, "Beyond the Politics". It is unknown whether this will be a limited run or a permanent addition.



In 2003 it became widely known that Bennett was a high-stakes gambler who reportedly had lost millions of dollars in Las Vegas. [cite news|author=David von Drehle|date=2003-05-03|work="The Washington Post"|title= Bennett Reportedly High-Stakes Gambler - Former Education Secretary Lost $8 Million in Past Decade, Magazines Find] As a Catholic, Bennett was not prohibited from gambling, but some felt it conflicted with his public image as a leading voice for conservative morals. Criticism elevated in the wake of Bennett's publication, The Book of Virtues, in which he argued for self-discipline -- an attribute often at odds with gambling. In the book, most selections are introduced by a short thematic note, e.g., "an honest heart will always find friend." For example, Bennett and Empower America, the organization he co-founded and headed at the time, opposed the extension of casino gambling in the states.Cite web|url=http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0306.green.html|title=The Bookie of Virtue|work=The Washington Monthly|author=Joshua Green|year=2003|accessdate=2008-04-08]

Bennett was never accused of, nor admitted to, having a "problem" with gambling and has maintained that his habit did not put himself or his family in any financial jeopardy. After Bennett's gambling became public, he said that he did not believe that his habit set a good example, that he had "done too much gambling" over the years, and that his "gambling days are over. "We are financially solvent," his wife Elayne told the USA Today. "All our bills are paid." She added that his gambling days are over. "He's never going again," she said.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/05/05/bennett.gambling/index.html|title=GOP moralist Bennett gives up gambling|date=2003-05-05|publisher=CNN|accessdate=2008-04-08]

Several months later, Bennett qualified his position, saying "So, in this case, the excessive gambling is over." He explained that "Since there will be people doing the micrometer on me, I just want to be clear: I do want to be able to bet the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl." [ [http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/474.html Are Bill Bennett’s gambling days over or not? - The Carpetbagger Report ] ]

Cigarette smoking

While "czar" at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Bennett was a cigarette smoker. He checked himself into a $700-a-week therapeutic resort to kick his two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. After failing to quit, he carried nicotine chewing gum with him everywhere. Political opponents of Bennett's policies accused him of hypocrisy for calling marijuana, cocaine and heroin immoral, and opposing their legalization, but not treating alcohol and tobacco the same way. [ [http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/baum1.htm Smoke and Mirrors, by Dan Baum, 1996] ]

Radio show abortion comment

On September 28, 2005, in a discussion on Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show, a caller to the show proposed the idea that the Social Security system might be solvent today if abortion hadn't been permitted following the Roe v. Wade decision. The following is from the conversation: ["Morning in America" [http://mediamatters.org/items/200509280006 Transcript and recording] . September 28, 2005]

:CALLER: I noticed the national media... talk [s] a lot about the loss of revenue... to fund Social Security, and I was curious, ... [whether] the abortions that have happened since Roe v. Wade [and] the lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30-something years could fund Social Security as we know it today...

:BENNETT: Assuming they're all productive citizens?

:CALLER: ...Even if only a portion of them were, it would be an enormous amount of revenue.

:BENNETT: Maybe,...but we don't know what the costs would be, too. I think [] abortion disproportionately occur [s] among single women? No?

:CALLER: I don't know the exact statistics, but quite a bit are, yeah.

:BENNETT: ...I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this... [I] t cuts both [ways] —you know. One of the arguments in this book "Freakonomics" that they make is... that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well-

:CALLER: -Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.

:BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either,... But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, 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. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

Subsequently, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as civil rights groups, condemned Bennett's statements and demanded an apology. President George W. Bush said Bennett's statements were "not appropriate." [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/01/politics/01bennett.html White House Condemns Bennett's Remark] "New York Times", October 1, 2005.]

Bennett responded to the criticism saying, in part:

:A thought experiment about public policy, on national radio, should not have received the condemnations it has. Anyone paying attention to this debate should be offended by those who have selectively quoted me, distorted my meaning, and taken out of context the dialog I engaged in this week. Such distortions from 'leaders' of organizations and parties is a disgrace not only to the organizations and institutions they serve, but to the First Amendment. ["Transcripts: CNN Saturday Morning News" [http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0510/01/smn.03.html] . October 1, 2005]


Bennett mentions Wikipedia frequentlyFact|date=July 2008 on his radio program "Morning in America." On July 25, 2007 he suggested if the Commission on Presidential Debates wanted serious, thoughtful participation from Americans it should have picked the editors of the Wikipedia over the contributors to YouTube.Fact|date=September 2008

ee also

* The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime
* Legalized abortion and crime effect
* Race and crime
* Roe effect
* Steven Levitt


External links

* [http://www.bennettmornings.com Morning in America]
* [http://www.bestfriendsfoundation.org/ Best Friends Foundation]

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