Liberal bellies are aching these days over President George W. Bush’s absence from this week’s Philadelphia convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Citing scheduling conflicts, the White House recently sent the president’s regrets. As journalists have explained in grave and slightly damning tones, Bush is the first president since Warren Harding not to address the NAACP. The insinuation is that Bush’s no-show before America’s oldest and largest civil-rights group reflects his neglect of, if not disdain for, black Americans.
No one should be surprised, however, to see Bush toss the NAACP’s invitation into the trash. That’s exactly where the Baltimore-based organization has relegated him since 2000. NAACP chairman Julian Bond and president Kweisi Mfume have played tag team in bashing Bush and the GOP.
“So, we’ve got…a president that’s prepared to take us back to the days of Jim Crow segregation and dominance,” Mfume told Washington journalist Hazel Trice Edney just last week. Mfume either is lying through his teeth or is clinically delusional if he believes Bush hopes to reintroduce segregated water fountains and “colored only” waiting rooms. Mfume should try the truth, or see a psychiatrist.
Bond’s rhetoric is equally reckless.
Bush and the GOP “preach racial equality but practice racial division,” Bond said June 23 in Indianapolis. “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side.”
Bond told the NAACP’s July 2003 Miami Beach conference: “Republicans appeal to the dark underside of American culture, to that minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality.”
President Bush “has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics,” Bond informed the NAACP’s New Orleans confab on July 8, 2001, as the September 11 hijackers learned to fly. “He has appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing. And he has chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection.”
No wonder Bush found a better use of his valuable time than to associate with these racial bomb throwers.
Far from dissing black Americans, Bush has met with them throughout his presidency. He attended the National Urban League’s 2001 and 2003 conventions. He hosted a White House celebration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s 40th anniversary. Urban League president Marc Morial was there, as was civil-rights veteran Dorothy Hite. He has spoken to black churchgoers about his faith-based initiative.
Mfume also whined that “the president has refused to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.”
There he goes again.
Bush, in fact, invited the all-Democratic CBC to the Cabinet Room on January 31, 2001. “They had a warm meeting,” White House Assistant Press Secretary Anne Womack told me then. “It was scheduled for 30 minutes and actually lasted nearly an hour.”
President Bush even has addressed…the NAACP. The day after Bond’s “Taliban” outburst, Bush offered its 2001 convention a video greeting. “I believe that even when disagreements arise,” Bush said, “we should treat each other with civility and with respect.”
Bush appeared personally before the NAACP as a 2000 presidential contender. In thanks, it telecast an infamous ad that fall which virtually implicated Bush in the 1998 truck-dragging murder of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas. Never mind that two of this black man’s three white killers were sentenced to death on Governor Bush’s watch.
Yes, Bush should campaign before black Americans, but he should not bother to plead with black leftists who hate his guts. Instead, he should meet with moderate to conservative blacks who are open to and even supportive of his policies. The Congress of Racial Equality, the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, and Project 21–as well as black business and religious groups–would treat Bush respectfully.
Julian Bond, Kweisi Mfume, and their NAACP cronies should stop screaming like infants and learn this simple lesson: Don’t expect grown adults to treat hand grenades like engraved invitations.
–New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a national-advisory-board member of Project 21, a Washington-based organization of black free-marketeers.