I got a nice New Year's present when, while sifting through some recent Bumiller stories, I noticed that BushCo is about to start 2006 in a hole so deep among African American voters that he's been forced to have meetings with the people he didn't feel like he needed to meet at all the first four years of the national affliction he calls his presidency:
For Mr. Gordon, [the new president of the NAACP] the meeting was the third with Mr. Bush in just three months, starting with a private one-on-one session in the Oval Office in September and then a smaller meeting with other black leaders earlier this month.
This emerging relationship between the president of the United States and the president of the N.A.A.C.P. signals that Mr. Bush is seeking a rapprochement with one of his more prominent critics at this troubled time for his administration, Republicans said. [There's that signature refrain "Party members said" from our Noble Nagourney. I miss the worried little guy. - eR]
Roughly the same time last year BushCo was flaunting his disdain for the NAACP and meeting instead with clergy and business leaders who toed his line. This is from January 25 of last year:
President Bush is reaching out this week to black leaders — from pastors to legislators — in an overture to a community that overwhelmingly voted again him.
Mr. Bush told a select group of black leaders Tuesday that his plan to add private accounts to Social Security would benefit blacks since they tend to have shorter lives than some other Americans and end up paying in more than they get out.
Social Security was one of many issues that came up during Mr. Bush's private meeting with 14 clergy and 10 leaders from business and nonprofit groups.
Included in the most recent meeting but missing from the one at the beginning of the year - missing in fact from any White House meeting until last week - was Dr. Willliam Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention and vocal opponant of BushCo's homophobic social policies. I used to think that homophobia was at the core of the GOP's plans to peel off the AfAm vote, but the Black Commentator says I'm wrong; it's vouchers and faith-based bribery: (emph mine)
Black politics is in crisis, reeling under the Republicans' mega-million-dollar assault against the core values of the historical Black Political Consensus—an evolved social democratic compact with an emphasis on justice that is subscribed to by overwhelming majorities of African Americans. The rising tempo of GOP activity among blacks—with no crescendo in sight—is the product of a sea change in right-wing thinking that occurred only about a decade ago, centered at the headquarters of the Bradley Foundation, in Milwaukee.
Under CEO and President (until 2001) Michael Joyce , Bradley invented both faith-based initiatives and the black wing of the voucher "movement." The voucher "movement," of course, was created out of whole cloth in collaboration with the Wal-Mart heirs' Walton Family Foundation. The Republican Party quickly adopted both strategies as tools to drive a wedge between blacks and teachers' unions and to lure opportunistic black clergy into the GOP orbit. Vouchers and faith-based bribery are the strategic battering rams the right hopes will demolish the Black Political Consensus. Gay-baiting, the "Death Tax" and longevity issues related to Social Security are tactical flourishes.
Still, one of those tactical flourishes took a big hit when the plan to destroy Social Security crashed and burned so spectacularly in '05. It looks like the gay-baiting is getting a tiny break for a little while at least, although I expect that to gear up again in time for the midterms. But, those two hits combined with the obvious implications of the lack of response to Katrina comprise what we BushCo watchers call a trifecta. Now, if only the useless Democrats would wake up and start working for the black vote, we might actually get somewhere.