On top of this, he's got an event that is transparently set up for Republican failure. The host, Smiley, is a liberal, the sponsoring venue, PBS, is liberal, and the journalists selected to do the questioning -- Cynthia Tucker, Juan Williams and Ray Suarez -- range across the spectrum from left to center. There's not a conservative to be found.
Among the only possible beneficiaries of such an event would be the second-tier candidates, who can use the publicity. The other beneficiaries are Smiley himself, who gets to look important if Republicans come, and Democrats in general, who stand to benefit from Republicans showing up at a forum that is not neutral.
So why would leading Republicans show up at an event that has little tangible benefit in their current pursuit of their party's nomination, an event set up to make them look bad?
Smiley's campaign to distort reality and use it as an occasion to attack Republicans is proof enough that leading GOP contenders were prudent and reasonable to not participate in this event.
Fact is, Smiley himself, who has a TV show, produces events and writes books targeted to blacks, has plenty of opportunities to give exposure to black conservatives. But he never does.
The agenda he promotes, and the analysts he showcases and to whom he gives credibility, are uniformly on the left.
Latest is his "Covenant with Black America." At a time when more and more blacks are beginning to appreciate that the problems in their communities are based in social and moral breakdown, with black-family collapse, and the problems concomitant with this, Smiley gives zero airing to this problem, and his Covenant does not provide a platform to a single black conservative.
Yet, now he postures that he's giving Republicans a shot at his community by offering them a few sound bites in a primary debate with little import.
As they say in our community, Mr. Smiley, get real.