Jewish World Review Dec. 23, 2003 / 28 Kislev, 5764

Stanley Crouch

Crouch
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GOPers are clueless in making the most of issues that will draw black voters


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | When President Bush signed a bill into law last week calling for the construction of a museum of black history in Washington, we saw, once again, that the Republicans have no idea how to make the most of issues that will draw black voters.


Here you have something coming to fruition that Negroes have been trying to get done since 1915. For all those decades, nothing happened. Now, with a Republican-run Congress, the museum is passed into law - yet you would almost have to be in the CIA to know that such a thing happened. Bush signed the bill privately with no public ceremony whatsoever.


Only some numbskull would have planned it that way with no statement from the President, no orchestrated hoopla, no celebration, no cameras, no spots on black radio, no press conference, no nothing. Very bad advice. Criminally bad.


I think this is the fault of the President's political adviser, Karl Rove, who works with an all-white staff and seems to have absolutely no idea how to appeal to black people or how to take advantage of an action that could help build an alternative image of the Republican Party.


The way that the White House played the black museum means there is almost no defense against Democratic adversaries. If someone were to speculate that the reason for the almost secretive signing was that the Republican Party is afraid of alienating Southern Republicrats or Southern rednecks (as opposed to Northern ones), what could the GOP say?


Here was an opportunity that was lost, one that gives an impression that may well be far from the truth but leaves a bitter aftertaste.


Everyone with whom I have talked believes that the problem is that the White House is more attuned to symbolic relationships with blacks than substantial ones because there is no one near the top who can tell those in charge, like Rove, how to avoid missing opportunities.


After all, the White House made more of the President's decision to refurbish the home of Frederick Douglass than it made of building this museum!


That is proof positive of how clueless the White House team is. Or as one white Republican woman said to me, "They may or may not be racist, but they do not put much effort into winning over black votes. I believe they think that is impossible, which is why they basically ignore black people."


Well, Mr. Rove, here's wishing you a white Christmas, just like the ones you've always known.



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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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