The White House Sensitivity Gap

Caring about the underdogs is not quite enough

A President caught in a political blunder can always resort to a familiar gambit to diffuse criticism: mixing candor and contrition. That was the tactic adopted by Ronald Reagan last week as he tried to stem the anger caused by the decision to allow tax exemptions for private schools practicing racial discrimination.

The controversial tax decision, announced on Jan. 8, seemed to align the Administration with enemies of the civil rights movement. Reagan's aides initially created the impression that the President had acted with little notice and less information in advance of the change. Reagan...

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