As we at CBC Monitor compile data for our next Report
Card on the voting behavior the Congressional Black Caucus, we
thought it interesting to compare our methodology with that of
Black Enterprise (BE) magazine. To put it bluntly, there is no
science – political or otherwise – in BE’s February
2006 “Progress Report” on the Bush Administration’s impact
on African Americans.
Bush’s “grades” range from a high of B- for helping
small business to a D- on tax cuts – certainly an inflated score
for an administration that garnered only 11 percent black support
in the 2004 election and has been going downhill among all groups
ever since. However, the entire BE exercise turned out to be worthless,
based as it was on the opinions of only six black “movers and
shakers,” three of whom are the most rightwing members of the
Congressional Black Caucus. Another black grader was a high White
House official at the time. Two political scientists were asked
Titled, “Bush administration
not making the grade: what has the government done for African
Americans lately?(WASHINGTON REPORT)”
the article uses a “scorecard” format to give readers the
impression of rigorous research and credible results. In fact,
BE’s panel of graders reflects nothing but the magazine’s bizarre
notions of “balance” – a juggling act in which four of the six
cast members consistently perform to the audience’s right.
We were particularly appalled to find BE had chosen
three black lawmakers to grade Bush who had themselves gotten
abysmal marks in the CBC
Monitor Report Card:
three earned the distinction, “Derelicts of the Congressional
Black Caucus.” Black Enterprise really knows how to pick ‘em.
Rep. Wynn was the most lackadaisical grader of all,
offering an opinion on Bush in only one of five categories of
performance: small business (Bush got a D).
We must ask the question: Why was Wynn even there?
Grader number four was Claude A. Allen, at the time
Bush's chief domestic policy adviser, who shortly thereafter resigned
when it was revealed that he had been charged with stealing
"clothing and cleaning products" from a Target store
in Maryland. Allen seemed to have been on the Clarence Thomas
track to black Republican fame and fortune, having made his bones
as an aide to arch-racist former North Carolina Senator Jesse
Helms. Until Allen’s fall from grace, George Bush valued his opinions
highly. Apparently, BE did too. The magazine pretended that a
White House staffer who played a role in shaping Bush policies
could be a trusted evaluator of the impact of these same policies
on African Americans.
As could have been expect, Allen gave his president
all A’s and A+s – except for administration Aid to Africa, a topic
he did not feel knowledgeable about.
The only two black opinions worth hearing on the
BE panel – that is, the only president graders whose views bear
much resemblance to those of most black folks – were political
scientists Dr. Ron Walters, University of Maryland, College Park
and Dr. Robert C. Smith, San Francisco State University. And here
we see the absolute incredibility of the BE exercise: the two
progressive black political scientists scored Bush higher than
the three right-leaning congressmen, who had earned failing grades
on the CBC Monitor Report Card for their habits of voting with
Possibly professors Walters and Smith graded Bush
on a scale of low-to-no expectations. We would have asked the
good professors that question, if the BE survey methodology was
worth taking seriously. But it isn’t, so we didn’t.
BE’s ‘Show and Tell’
The CBC Monitor grades Black lawmakers based on
their votes on a list of “bright line” bills before the Congress.
Although one can argue about what is, and is not a “bright line”
issue of vital interest to African Americans, the methodology
is transparent and understandable to the public and lawmakers,
alike. Votes are tallied and the grades are allowed to fall where
they may. The CBC Monitor welcomes debate over our choices of
where to draw bright lines – that’s a healthy thing to do, and
advances the African American political dialogue around real issues.
But Black Enterprise’s arbitrary selection of “movers and shakers”
to grade a president serves almost no useful purpose at all. It’s
all “show,” and no “tell.” Especially when half the graders are
certified “Derelicts of the Congressional Black Caucus.”
Leutisha Stills can be reached at [email protected].
The CBC Monitor's website is cbcmonitor.voxunion.com.