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July 11, 2004
NAACP Pleads For Relevance

Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP, publicly re-invited George Bush to speak at their annual convention, promising that he will be treated with respect if he returns. Bush, so far, isn't biting at the bait:

Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP, said it was "unbelievable" that Bush had declined an invitation to speak at the organization's annual meeting for the fourth consecutive year.

"When you are president, you are elected to be president of all the people," Mfume said at a news conference as the convention opened. "You won't do that if you refuse to talk."

He asked Bush to change his mind and promised that the Republican president would be treated with respect at the Philadelphia event this week even if many delegates oppose his politics.

Mfume sees his organization losing its relevance in electoral politics under his leadership, and he's panicking. Bush went out of his way to make an appearance in 2000, after which Mfume and the NAACP paid him back by running ads accusing him of being a racist for not supporting hate-crimes legislation. They used the dragging murder of James Byrd (and Byrd's daughter) to campaign against Bush, even though Texas convicted all three perps for first-degree murder and sentenced two of the three to death.

Of course, Bush managed to win without the NAACP's support in 2000, even though he only scored 9% of the African-American vote -- a bloc-voting habit that effectively demonstrated that the Republicans could win without pandering to radical-left leaders like Julian Bond and Mfume. The NAACP continued its attacks throughout the Bush administration even though Bush has promoted more people of color into higher positions of power than any preceding president, and has spent more on education than any other administration. Bush has wisely decided that nothing he does will cause NAACP leadership to change its mind about his presidency, and therefore appearing at their convention is a waste of time all the way around.

Bush's refusal to appear has been excoriated by Mfume and Bond, saying that Bush has taken race relations back to the Warren Harding administration -- the last sitting president to not appear at an NAACP convention during an entire term of office. But given Bush's track record, such a charge is ludicrous, and obviously so. The truth is that Bond and Mfume have allowed the NAACP to make itself nothing more than the Democratic Party's subsidiary, and have wound up marginalizing a once fiercely independent organization.

Mfume now finds himself begging Bush to attend the convention to maintain an illusion that they have not made themselves subordinate to Terry McAuliffe. Failing to have a sitting president address their members is a terrible failing, I agree, but the failure is not Bush's. This failure belongs to Mfume and Bond, and the membership should consider how radical and partisan these two leaders have made their group.

UPDATE: McQ from QandO has a few words to say on the subject, too, and also notes the NAACP's marginalization.

UPDATE II: The Left Coaster, in a fairly typical response, holds up Mfume's line about Bush being obligated to speak to the NAACP, because they represent 500,000 voters and Bush's refusal supposedly shows his uncaring attitude towards its membership. This argument is laughable; claims millions of members, but Bush won't be accepting any invitations there, either. Bush's status as a leader does not hinge on his appearance at the NAACP convention, and if the NAACP wants to make itself the kind of organization where any politician can come to address its membership, the responsibility for that is the NAACP's leadership, not George Bush.

Since when is it a requirement for Presidents to address organizations of 500,000 people or more?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 11, 2004 5:45 PM

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» Marginalized from :: Political Musings ::
President Bush has declined to attend this year's annual conference of the NAACP, again. He is right to do so. The verbal abuse he has received from the group's chairman, Julian Bond, is unwarranted and without precedent. Two weeks ago Mr. Bon... [Read More]

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