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October 31, 2004
CQ Flashback: A Great Example Of The Left's Hypocrisy On Race (5/15/04)

The Left tosses another double standard at the Republicans today in an op-ed piece in today's Los Angeles Times. Lawrence Weschler, author and academic, writes a smirking, breathless piece on the audacity of George Bush to include pictures of black people on his website. Oh, the scandal! Of course, the lack of minorities in John Kerry's inner circle never quite comes up:

Quick. Before they take it down. Go to your computer, log on to the official Bush/Cheney '04 reelection website. ...

Nice big picture of Bush merrily shooting the breeze with two black teenage girls. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll find a quadrant labeled Compassion Photos, with the invitation, "Click here for the Compassion Photo Album." Do so.

And let's see, what have we got? First one up: short-sleeved Bush, holding a black kid in his arms, a bleacher full of black kids behind him, and he's merrily waving to the crowd. Click "next." And it's Bush at a Waco Habitat for Humanity building site, his arm draped around a black woman, his other hand tapping the shoulder of another of the black construction volunteers. Next: Bush waving to the Urban League. Next: Bush working a crowd, a black or maybe, in this case, South Indian kid prominently featured in the foreground, gazing on in amazement. Bush in an African thatch-roofed schoolroom.

This goes on for quite a while, with Weschler finding it incredible that George Bush could actually be photographed with African-Americans. But why exactly does this show of diversity -- isn't that a worthy goal? -- bother Weschler so greatly? Here's part of his explanation, such as it is:

I mean, bracket for a moment some of the actual facts concerning the fate of blacks and other people of color across the years of the Bush administration. How, for instance, tax cuts massively skewed toward the wealthy favor whites, while the huge resultant deficits necessitate service cuts massively disfavoring the poor, a group that includes proportionally more blacks.

My question is, for whom is this photo gallery intended? Does anybody seriously think blacks are going to be swayed by one staged photo op after another, in which time and again their confederates are cast as the pitiable recipients of an ostentatious display of kingly compassion?

Ah, I see -- Bush has not followed Weschler's prescription for domestic policy, which means higher taxes and increased social spending, so he's not allowed to be photographed with minorities. But in answering Weschler's challenge on the last question, Bush rightly points to his track record in placing people of color (and women) in positions of power, especially in non-traditional roles. Instead of having a woman head Health and Human Services, he has women of color running the national security and Department of Labor. He selected Colin Powell to be Secretary of State and Rod Paige as Secretary of Education, and so on. Weschler, after having asked what Bush has done for blacks, then derides him for having the poor taste to answer:

Although in this context it's worth recalling Bush's own reply to a journalist in 2001 who, citing the new president's highly unusual refusal to address the annual meeting of the NAACP, had asked how he might respond to critics who said his "civil rights record was less than stellar." Smirking, the president replied: "Let's see. There I was sitting around the table with foreign leaders looking at Colin Powell and Condi Rice." End of discussion.

In the first place, it's not terribly unusual for people to avoid groups who spent most of the previous year slandering them, which the NAACP did by running ads suggesting that George Bush was responsible for the car-lynching of James Byrd, whose murderers were sentenced to death in Texas, and for running ads with Bush's face superimposed on a Confederate flag. Beyond that irrelevancy, Bush's answer to critics of his civil-rights approach was to show his own commitment to diversity. Weschler loves the question, I suppose, but hates the answer, because it shoots down his entire, and yes, bigoted notion of Republicans.

Let's take a look at the approach used by a Democrat, shall we? John Kerry, a rich Boston Brahmin who has been in politics for over thirty years as a water-carrier for liberals, has managed to create a miniscandal in his own campaign by surrounding himself with a monochromatic group of inner-circle advisors -- and that single color isn't blue. As the New York Times reported just two weeks ago, traditional constituencies of the Democrats are none too happy about it, perhaps a reason for Weschler to attack Bush for his commitment to real diversity:

For weeks, Senator John Kerry savored a Democratic Party that was unified in rallying behind his presidential candidacy. But in recent days, influential black and Hispanic political leaders whom the campaign had counted on for support have been openly complaining that Mr. Kerry's organization lacks diversity and is failing to appeal directly to minority voters.

Even as Mr. Kerry spoke here on Thursday to the National Conference of Black Mayors an appearance his community outreach team viewed as critical to building a network of minority support two influential Latino leaders circulated harsh letters expressing concern about the campaign's dealings with minorities.

And in interviews over the last week, more than a dozen minority elected officials and political strategists voiced concerns about what they said was the dearth of representation in Mr. Kerry's inner circle and worried that he was taking black and Hispanic votes for granted.

So what we have here is a transparent attempt to shift attention from the growing realization that minorities will only get token representation, as usual, from the Democrats in Kerry's campaign (and by extension, his administration if elected) by counting the black people in pictures on George Bush's website. You can bet that if Weschler had counted too few, this column would still have appeared, arguing that a lack of such images portended some evil, master plot to propose "Dixie" as the national anthem.

As usual, the Left targets appearance above substance, and perhaps those constituencies that have traditionally supported Democrats will realize that Bush offers a real voice in policy matters to people of all colors -- while the Left continues to count faces in the picture to demonstrate their commitment to diversity.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 31, 2004 8:00 PM

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