Number four is correct. George W. Bush spoke at
the NAACP convention. Most presidents, including Nixon and Reagan,
do that at least once during their term in office, but Bush
had never seen fit to show up. This year’s convention was the
sixth held during the Bush presidency and the first invitation
the White House accepted. Hopefully it will be the last.
It isn’t really surprising that he would show
up now. The Republicans are fighting to retain control of Congress
this November. That is why they held their first ever Be Nice
to Black People week before Bush made his splash.
It was a smart move. The hapless Democrats, dedicated
to neither offending nor appealing to any constituency, may
still be unable to control either the House or Senate despite
the Bush popularity plunge. Bush gets a twofer with the NAACP.
He looks like a moderate, compassionate conservative. In doing
so he appeals to white voters who are deluded about the awful
nature of the Bush beast if he is in the presence of a critical
mass of brown faces.
Be Nice to Black People included Senate approval
of a 25 year extension of the Voting Rights Act. It was even
called the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King
Voting Rights Act. No one can complain about extension of the
Act or the mouthful of a title that honored departed heroes.
The Voting Rights Act was in true danger of expiring.
For a while it seemed as if the chain emails warning
about the end of voting rights were finally going to be accurate.
White southerners, almost all Republicans, made good on their
one party rule bully tactics and openly spoke of rejecting the
Act’s renewal for the first time in 40 years. Karl Rove decided
that passage of the act might be helpful to Republicans after
all, so he called off the dogs. Machiavellian manipulations
saved the day for civil rights.
Like anyone who ever gives a speech, Bush started
out with a
joke. “Bruce is a polite guy – I thought what he was going
to say, it's about time you showed up.” He then used stale Republican
talking points geared to black audiences with some phony contrition
thrown in for good measure. “I understand that many African-Americans
distrust my political party.”
Lynn Swann, Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele are supposed to
prove otherwise. Even Bush had to admit that a big lie has been
Condi Rice had to be present of course. While
the world demanded that Bush attempt to end the bloodshed brought
to Lebanon and Gaza by Israel, his Secretary of State sat and
gave him domestic political cover. She should have been on her
way to Jerusalem, ordering the Israelis to stop their carnage.
Instead they declared their intention to kill more people, telling
the terrorized Lebanese to run fast, or risk being killed.
Like a bad child, Bush is always on his worst
behavior when he is away from home. Before the NAACP convention,
Bush’s most scrutinized public appearance was at the G8 summit
in Russia. When he wasn’t waxing philosophical about flight
times from China, and observing that it was a really big country,
and so is China,” he was copping a feel from the new German
Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
It was horrifying to see the President of the
United States give an unwanted shoulder massage to another world
leader. Unfortunately said leader is female and as such is not
entitled to her own personal space. After literally
recoiling at Bush’s touch, she diplomatically feigned a
Every American worker gets a memo, lecture or
video explaining the dos and don’ts of avoiding a hostile work
environment. Touching people who haven’t asked to be touched
is a sure fire recipe for a lawsuit, and Ms. Merkel’s case was
caught on tape. Bush ought to be sued like a clueless office
manager who demeans a secretary. I guess he sees Angela Merkel
as the new gal in the secretarial pool.
Hopefully the leadership of the NAACP and the
rest of black America doesn’t feel the need to be validated
by the presence of such a person, even if he is Commander in
Chief of the United States. He ended his week by expediting
a shipment of bombs to Israel, proving that its terror would
end if Uncle Sam demanded it, and insuring that the rest of
the world continues to hate every American.
It isn’t necessary that every president show up
to speak for the NAACP. This year the guest of honor was a sexist
groper determined to kill. As the old saying goes, “Be careful
what you ask for.”
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column
appears weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley
is a freelance writer living in New York City. She can be reached
via e-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at freedomrider.blogspot.com.