In almost two hours from now, George Bush will address the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), after having avoided them like the plague for the past 5 years.
Bush's decision to finally address the NAACP is nothing more than a Rovian attempt to garner more Black votes for the GOP in this fall's elections.
So exactly what does Bush have to say to the NAACP? He has no record of accomplishment in the area of civil rights to speak on.
- He has ignored the disparity between the
African-American unemployment rate, and that of the national average. On his watch, the African-American unemployment rate has almost been twice that of the national unemployment rate.
- He appointed a man to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, who boasted about never being a civil rights activist. Because of course, why on earth would anyone want to be a civil rights activist?
- On Bush's watch, there has been an increase in the number of Americans living in poverty, the number of uninsured Americans, and those who the Department of Agriculture calls "food insecure."
pledging to tackle the issue of poverty in the aftermath of Katrina, Bush has all but forgotten the issue.
- His Administration went to the Supreme Court to try to put a hault to the University of Michigan's affirmative action program.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
So what exactly, will he say?
It would not surprise me if Bush, ever the political opportunist, attempts to somehow take credit for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Despite the
objections of some southern Republicans, the House of Representatives approved the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, without any amendments. And the Senate seems poised to do the same today (in spite of Majority Leader Bill Frist's initial laziness on the subject; he didn't even want to put a vote on the Act's renewal on the Senate calendar, at first). In spite of all this, it is very possible that by the end of the day, the Voting Rights Act could be at Bush's desk, waiting for his signature.
But before Bush tries to take credit for the impending renewal of the Voting Rights Act, it is important to remember that Bush didn't even know what the Act was.
Several years ago, members of the Congressional
Black Caucus forced Bush to meet with them regarding the crisis in Haiti. They used the opportunity to remind Bush that portions of the Voting Rights Act would soon be expiring, and asked for his support in ensuring its reauthorizaiton. He responded by telling them he didn't have a clue. He didn't know what the Voting Rights Act was. The most important civil rights legislation of our time, and the "leader of the free world" was clueless about it.
I hope Bush and his Brain remember that African-Americans don't suffer from long-term or short-term memory loss. And that it's substance, not style, that matters.