Armstrong Williams' poor judgment in not revealing being compensated by the Department of Education to promote No Child Left Behind is unfortunate. With his stepping into the line of fire and acknowledging his errors, we'll be able to get this behind us and move on.
What impact, if any, will this incident have on the ongoing credibility of black conservatism?
Liberals, particularly black liberals, will claim this incident simply confirms what they have known all along. For them, black conservatives by definition are individuals on the make and on the take.
In their view, liberalism is coded into black DNA. It is a genetic impossibility for a black to actually believe that government should be limited and that every person, regardless of circumstance, must take personal responsibility for his or her own life. A black espousing such views, according to liberal thinking, commits an act against nature and betrays heritage and family. The only possible explanation for any black talking like a conservative is that the person is being paid to do it.
What is worse, to continue with this line of thinking, only whites can really be conservatives. So, black conservatives outrage black liberals not just because they are supposedly sellouts, but also because they are selling out to whites.
This mindset is quite common, unfortunately, among the black political class.
I think Williams' mistake will hurt a little as we try to make inroads in the black community with the conservative message. After all, trust is what carries the day in human relations, and trust is the biggest problem that conservatives have in winning over black hearts and minds.
However, I think the setback will be small because, in fact, the importance and relevance of the conservative message to the black community is real and more and more blacks are getting it.
An increasing number of blacks understand that their future lies in mending their communities, restoring traditional values, rebuilding the black family and helping inner-city black men get control of their lives and aspire to become husbands, fathers and breadwinners, rather than players.
The support for school choice is as strong in the black community as in the white community. As the national dialogue on Social Security reform proceeds, I am confident that increasing numbers of blacks will get the simple message that personal ownership rather than taxes and government will build black wealth and autonomy.
I am far more concerned with the ongoing destruction that occurs every day in the black community that directly reflects the politicization of African-American life that has been going on for the last 50 years.