Sure he knew -- up to the minute he trundled off to the annual convention of the NAACP, determined to appease; in which determination he succeeded, with the usual consequences. The delegates, celebrating Bush's first appearance at an NAACP bash, gave a foot-stomping welcome to his call for renewing the Voting Rights Act. Then, "a somber silence fell over the room as the president discussed his policies on education, jobs, and housing," reported The New York Times. "When he endorsed charter schools," said The Times, "the president was booed" -- just as he ought to have expected when undertaking to reason with Western civilization's most unreasonable organization. That is, next to the National Education Association, which shares the NAACP's hostility toward charter schools and vouchers, among other needed national reforms.
The seasons pass, the earth renews itself, and yet the spectacle of two nettlesome "liberal" organizations -- liberal in the 20th century collectivist sense -- never changes. What was "bad" 50 years ago -- e.g., cessation of government interference in private transactions -- remains "bad" today. Change? Rethink? Re-evaluate? Aargghhhh! Not around here, sir.
The good part about Bush's reception by the NAACP -- which takes the line that the federal government is most useful when it's pretending that racial "inequality" yields only to federal orders and control -- is that whoever talked Bush into making nice with the NAACP may have less influence with him next time. The bad part is our rekindled understanding that fuddy-duddies don't listen, no matter what you say to them.
Why would a hail of boos have greeted the presidential call for more charter schools? Why, indeed, when the whole idea of charter schools is to help the mostly minority victims of bad public schools bypass those schools? A charter school, using state money, has freedom to experiment with new ways of teaching and to apply different standards of discipline than do the publics. Not a lot of charters exist at present, owing to the obduracy of the teachers' unions. Same with voucher programs, such as those the Education Department recently proposed.