President Bush addressed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- after five years of invitations -- and blew it. He pandered, he condescended, all to show blacks that, yes, the president feels your pain.
"I consider it a tragedy," said President Bush, "that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historic ties with the African American community. For too long my party wrote off the African American vote, and many African Americans wrote off the Republican Party."
At last, cried the main scream media, Bush addressed the NAACP! As one news anchor put it, the president's speech was an attempt to show blacks that he "cares" about them. A breathless Associated Press headline read, "Bush Acknowledges Racism Still Exists."
Well, call off the hunger strike. Shut down the Internet. Break up the New York Yankees. President Bush "acknowledges" racism still exists. Excuse me, please, but when did Bush state, suggest or imply that racism didn't exist?
"Civil rights leader" Reverend Al Sharpton weighed in on Bush's speech on FOX's "The O'Reilly Factor." Did anything about the president's speech impress him? "I think," Sharpton said, "the fact that he said what many people will not say around the right, and even on this station, that there's still racism in America. It's going to make it hard for a lot of people that said that's in the past. Even George Bush admits that. " [Emphasis added.] Again, when did . . . Oh, never mind.
The "Democratic Times of Los Angeles," aka the Los Angeles Times, took the cake. In a lengthy article about the speech, the Times reporter wrote that the reason Bush took so long before addressing the NAACP was " . . . the result, in part, of bad blood between the President and Julian Bond, the longtime chairman of the [NAACP]." Bad blood?
The paper failed to explain exactly why "bad blood" exists. Chairman Bond, on July 8, 2001, said, "[Bush] has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."
Surely Chairman Bond would not repeat this outrage after September 11. But on Dec. 2, 2001, almost three months after the terrorist attacks on our soil that killed over 3,000, Bond did it again. Speaking about then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bond said, "He knows something about the Taliban, coming from, as he does, from that wing of American politics." Enough? Apparently not.
Bond, on June 2, 2004, unleashed again while giving an address at a "Take Back America" conference: "[Republicans] draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban-wing of American politics."
Now get this. In an editorial about the president's NAACP address, the "Democratic Times of Los Angeles" said, " . . . [F]ormer NAACP Chairman Julian Bond memorably referred to the 'the Taliban wing' of the GOP in 2001 (he spoke before 9/11)." No, no, no. As we know, Bond said this before and after 9/11. And the description of Bond as "former" chairman -- that must be news to current chairman Bond.
On the other side of the country, the "Democratic Times of New York," aka The New York Times, told its readers that Bush irritated some people in the audience. "Bush repeatedly referred to the group as the N-A-A-C-P, attracting some notice from those who use the more traditional pronunciation of N-double-A-C-P." Good grief, why, the president practically uttered the "n" word! Someone call Jesse!
The president could have turned this into a truly memorable and important speech. Instead, Bush ran off a litany of federal programs designed to "help" blacks -- No Child Left Behind Act, Pell grants, loans for black businesses, etc. Bush could have grabbed the NAACP -- and indeed, the country -- by its lapels, and said:
"Ladies and gentlemen, good news. While racism can never be purged from the hearts of all people, it no longer represents a force potent enough to hold back anyone in America who works hard, invests in education and avoids making poor moral choices. Because of the hard work of your organization and countless men and women of all races, America has come a long way. Despite America's flaws, we can now say that we have the fairest, most free, more upwardly mobile and more open society in all of human history. We have black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Black people occupy positions in government at the very highest levels. The black middle class grows and thrives. It is an insult to hard-working black men and women to suggest that, but for race-based preferences, they never would have made it.
"The real problem facing this country is a growing sense of entitlement -- of you owe me, blaming slights of the past on those living in the present. Well, all a state can be, is just in its (SET ITAL) own (END ITAL) time. As Bill Cosby once said, America has done its part. Now we must do our part."
Now that would show he "cares."