Ducking The Check on Race

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Clinton is tripping over his own symbolism on race. Having spent the weekend defending his race initiatives from critics including Jesse Jackson who say it's a shallow, cosmetic approach to a serious problem, the President is stalling on supporting a bill once again making its way through the House that would authorize an official apology for slavery. "To say it's wrong and that we're sorry about it is not a bad thing,” Clinton said Monday. “That doesn't weaken us. Now, whether this legislation should pass, I just need some time to think about that." The President has said he would not support the next step, making monetary reparations to descendants of slaves, but a CBS News poll released Sunday indicated that a government apology may not be enough to make a sizable statement. Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe racial problems are beyond the President's control, up from 46 percent four years ago. But considering that President Bush supported paying reparations to the Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II, and Clinton apologized to the hundreds of black men in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, his reluctance to go the extra mile for the millions of blacks cheated by the legacy of slavery undercuts any gestures he is willing to make.