They Don't Call It the White House for Nothing
God lost this time. I counted: Bush mentioned God only six times in his speech to the NAACP yesterday. The winner was "faith" -- which got seven mentions, though if you count "The Creator" as God, well, then the Lord tied it.
Coming in right behind God and Faith, other big mentions in the First Home Boy's rap included: The Voting Rights Act, his family's "commitment to civil rights," the "death tax," rebuilding New Orleans, "public school choice" and "soft bigotry."
As the philosopher Aretha Franklin once said, "Who's zoomin' who?"
Let's take it one point at a time.
Death and Taxes: Inheritance taxes apply only to those who leave assets exceeding $2 million. Mr. Bush realized how crucial this issue was to the NAACP. He said, "The [current] 'death tax' will prevent future African American entrepreneurs from being able to pass their assets from one generation to the next." His heart went out to the families of Gulf Coast flood victims who discovered that they could collect only the first two million bucks of their inheritance tax-free. Apparently, Mr. Bush heard that, among the 2,000 folk drowned in New Orleans, there were several millionaires. Luckily, the rumor proved false.
School Choice: Our Voucher Salesman-in-Chief offered the Black folk a truly exciting deal:
"When we find schools that are not teaching and will not change, our parents should have a different optionÃ‚Â· charter schools and public school choice and opportunity scholarships to be able to enable parents to move their child out of a school that's not teaching."
What he meant in this statement that was nearly in English ("to be able to enable"?) was that his No Child Left Behind Act gives all parents the right to move their kids to better schools.
Indeed, the Behind Act does require school systems to offer that choice. In New York, for example, a third of a million students qualify under the law to escape poorly performing schools -- but only 8,000 could do so. Mr. Bush forgot to include the money for the moves. But hey, his parents never asked for a handout to move him to Phillips Andover Academy.
Voting Rights Act -- This was a big applause line. Bush gloated about his convincing the White Sheets Caucus of the Republican Party to go along with the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. But he forgot to mention the fine print. The Southern GOP only went along with renewing the law on the understanding that the law would never be enforced.
Think I'm kidding? Check this: in July 2004, the US Civil Rights Commission voted to open a civil and criminal investigation of his brother's Administration in Florida for knowingly conducting a racially-biased scrub of voter rolls. In April 2004, Governor Jeb Bush, of the "family committed to civil rights," personally ordered this new purge of "felons" from voter rolls, despite promising never to repeat the infamous scrub of 2000. The new purge violated a settlement he signed with the, uh, the NAACP.
It also violated the Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Commission turned the case over to the US Justice Department which, two years on, has yet to begin the investigation. That's not to say President Bush did nothing. He swiftly removed every member of the Commission who voted to investigate his brother.
Ownership Society -- Our President was really excited recounting how he spoke to actual Black people in Mississippi, asking how many of them had 401(k) investment plans. Strangely, he didn't ask them if they had health insurance. Since Mr. Bush took office, the number of African-American adults without it has grown to 7.3 million. That's a kind of death tax, too, Mr. President.
Soft Bigot -- Our President completed the White-washing of his record by railing against, "the soft bigotry of low expectations. If you have low expectations," he said, "you're going to get lousy results."
Well, the NAACP never expected much from this President, and the results have proved his point.