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The NAACP made more headlines than usual at its recent annual convention because of one speaker. Who was that person?

    1. He stole one and possibly two elections to become president of the USA
    2. He was photographed sexually harassing the Chancellor of Germany
    3. He sent a huge cache of weapons to a nation on the verge of invading another sovereign nation
    4. All of the above

Number four is correct. George W. Bush spoke at the NAACP convention. Most presidents, including Nixon and Reagan, do that at least once during their term in office, but Bush had never seen fit to show up. This year’s convention was the sixth held during the Bush presidency and the first invitation the White House accepted. Hopefully it will be the last.

It isn’t really surprising that he would show up now. The Republicans are fighting to retain control of Congress this November. That is why they held their first ever Be Nice to Black People week before Bush made his splash.

It was a smart move. The hapless Democrats, dedicated to neither offending nor appealing to any constituency, may still be unable to control either the House or Senate despite the Bush popularity plunge. Bush gets a twofer with the NAACP. He looks like a moderate, compassionate conservative. In doing so he appeals to white voters who are deluded about the awful nature of the Bush beast if he is in the presence of a critical mass of brown faces.

Be Nice to Black People included Senate approval of a 25 year extension of the Voting Rights Act. It was even called the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act. No one can complain about extension of the Act or the mouthful of a title that honored departed heroes. The Voting Rights Act was in true danger of expiring.

For a while it seemed as if the chain emails warning about the end of voting rights were finally going to be accurate. White southerners, almost all Republicans, made good on their one party rule bully tactics and openly spoke of rejecting the Act’s renewal for the first time in 40 years. Karl Rove decided that passage of the act might be helpful to Republicans after all, so he called off the dogs. Machiavellian manipulations saved the day for civil rights.

Like anyone who ever gives a speech, Bush started out with a joke. “Bruce is a polite guy – I thought what he was going to say, it's about time you showed up.” He then used stale Republican talking points geared to black audiences with some phony contrition thrown in for good measure. “I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party.” Lynn Swann, Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele are supposed to prove otherwise. Even Bush had to admit that a big lie has been peddled.

Condi Rice had to be present of course. While the world demanded that Bush attempt to end the bloodshed brought to Lebanon and Gaza by Israel, his Secretary of State sat and gave him domestic political cover. She should have been on her way to Jerusalem, ordering the Israelis to stop their carnage. Instead they declared their intention to kill more people, telling the terrorized Lebanese to run fast, or risk being killed.

Like a bad child, Bush is always on his worst behavior when he is away from home. Before the NAACP convention, Bush’s most scrutinized public appearance was at the G8 summit in Russia. When he wasn’t waxing philosophical about flight times from China, and observing that it was a really big country, “Russia’s big and so is China,” he was copping a feel from the new German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

It was horrifying to see the President of the United States give an unwanted shoulder massage to another world leader. Unfortunately said leader is female and as such is not entitled to her own personal space. After literally recoiling at Bush’s touch, she diplomatically feigned a smile.

Every American worker gets a memo, lecture or video explaining the dos and don’ts of avoiding a hostile work environment. Touching people who haven’t asked to be touched is a sure fire recipe for a lawsuit, and Ms. Merkel’s case was caught on tape. Bush ought to be sued like a clueless office manager who demeans a secretary. I guess he sees Angela Merkel as the new gal in the secretarial pool.

Hopefully the leadership of the NAACP and the rest of black America doesn’t feel the need to be validated by the presence of such a person, even if he is Commander in Chief of the United States. He ended his week by expediting a shipment of bombs to Israel, proving that its terror would end if Uncle Sam demanded it, and insuring that the rest of the world continues to hate every American.

It isn’t necessary that every president show up to speak for the NAACP. This year the guest of honor was a sexist groper determined to kill. As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you ask for.”

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City. She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at


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July 27, 2006
Issue 193

is published every Thursday.

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