Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2000 / 24 Kislev, 5761

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Though symbolic, Bush's diversity sends a message -- WHEN IT COMES to the African-American vote, Republicans just can't win. This week, George W. Bush announced he was going to hold a summit with black ministers. The two-term governor of Texas made so-called faith based initiatives - allowing churches, parochial schools and other religious groups to cooperate with government agencies to help the poor and needy - a centerpiece of his administration. He now wants to do the same thing at the national level.

There is talk of Bush appointing his most trusted policy aide from the campaign, former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, as a Cabinet-level czar for such efforts. So, what has been the response from black leaders?

Silence and derision.

Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford echoed the most common refrain among the black leadership when he told The Washington Post that Bush's "symbolic" approach to the black community is "condescending as if he's doing us a favor just giving us an audience."

California Rep. Maxine Waters, who often refers to those who disagree with her as "the enemy," said, "Actions speak louder than words. One of the things African-Americans have to do is be smart enough not to let them divide us."

These comments came just days after Bush appointed Colin Powell as secretary of state and Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser - two of the most important and sensitive positions in his administration and the highest appointments of African-Americans in U.S. history.

This is a small illustration of the challenge facing the GOP. In the eyes of the black Democratic elite, short of simply taking dictation from Jesse Jackson, Republicans can't do anything right.

Take Ford's criticism that Bush's efforts are merely "symbolic." Racial liberals say this whenever Republicans reach out to minorities. Both the 1992 and 1996 Republican conventions were ridiculed for their lack of diversity and for not "making an effort" to reach out. So, in 2000, the Republicans embraced minorities so much it seemed like a parody of a Democratic convention - or perhaps a new TV show on the WB network.

But did Republicans get credit for "reaching out"? Of course not. Instead, the Republican convention was ridiculed by talking heads, print journalists and every spinner in the Democratic Party as a meaningless "minstrel show."

It's particularly ironic because so much of the minority political agenda is itself symbolic. Why else would anyone care that the Cabinet "looks like America"?

Take so-called hate-crimes laws. Nobody has ever even attempted to make an intelligent case that these laws have any tangible effects. After all, even leftist activists concede that it's already very illegal to murder anybody. Instead, proponents like Jesse Jackson and the NAACP - which ran hateful ads suggesting Bush favored the brutal murder of blacks -say hate-crime laws would "send a message" to racists. But if message-sending isn't just another way of saying "symbolic" politics, I don't what is.

Symbolism matters, of course. Role models - another topic we hear so much about from the African-American community - are symbolic. And no one would dispute that good role models are better than bad ones.

No appointee is a more important role model than the president himself. The best way for Bush to live up to that responsibility is by ignoring politicians determined to demonize him and his party.

Bush lost the black vote by a margin of 9 to 1 - more than any Republican in 16 years. His margin of defeat was 10 points worse than Bob Dole's showing in 1996. The reasons behind this will be dissected for years.

But no one should doubt the job done on him by black leaders like Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters and Kweisi Mfume of the NAACP. They accused Bush of being a racist and a happy warrior in the cause of bigotry. They are now protesting his efforts to go over their heads to ministers who might be more interested in helping their flocks. It seems to me that the more these leaders protest, the more progress Bush is making.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


12/19/00: Gore concedes --- but why did it take so long?
12/14/00: Is 'Queer as Folk' what we asked for?
12/11/00: Election mess hardly a 'civics lesson'
12/07/00: Clinton's tacky legacy
12/05/00: Marriage civilizes the manly beast
11/30/00: Gore's speech more pompous posturing
11/28/00: Rabble-rousing Dems act irresponsibly
11/27/00: Duking it out with democracy
11/16/00: Issues irrelevant to most voters
11/14/00: Gore's us-vs.-them campaign
11/10/00: Dot-com disasters missing brand-name success
11/06/00: Conventional wisdom turns with the polls
11/03/00: Clinton photo, appropriately, hits below the belt
11/01/00: Electoral college ensures democracy
10/30/00: New Yorkers, media letting Hillary off the hook
10/23/00: Gore needs to put first things first
10/20/00: Treatment of Farrakhan glosses over odd issues
10/16/00: Secrets of election can be found in 'Star Trek'
10/12/00: Arafat hardly 'provoked' into violence
10/10/00: Undecided voters may be ignorant, not discriminating
10/06/00: The importance of character isn't debatable
10/03/00: Conservatives are the true friends of science You know why?
09/29/00: Symbolic 'born alive' vote makes sense
09/25/00: Conservatives adopt abandoned liberalism
09/21/00: Ventura's media backpedaling makes fiction of his new book
09/18/00: Tough questions target Hillary Clinton's elitism
09/14/00: Hollywood morality to blame
09/11/00: Specifically, AlGore's detailed plan is meaningless
09/07/00: Time-honored tradition: Insult the press
09/05/00: Scouting out justice
08/30/00: The ADL's historical revisionism
08/28/00: Sitcoms will survive, post-"Survivor"
08/24/00: Candidates' choice of movies shows refreshing honesty
08/21/00: An AlGore victory? Only if dead birds fly
08/17/00: AlGore is doomed, but Dems ignore warning signs
08/15/00: Proud and true: He's a Jew
08/10/00: Exploiting religion would be tragic mistake
08/08/00: Cheney serves up tempting appetizer
08/03/00: Republicans now 'nice,' media still nasty
08/01/00: Presidential campaign could use some anti-metric mania
07/27/00: Government shouldn't subsidize Reform Party
07/25/00: Campaign finance 'reform' gives too much power to liberal media
07/20/00: Hillary slur speaks volumes
07/18/00: AlGore's McCarthyism
07/11/00: 'Survivor' shows hypocrisy of animal rights groups
07/05/00: McDonald's deserves a break today
07/03/00: On July Fourth, time to reflect on America's founding
06/28/00: America bashing becomes international pastime
06/23/00: If Fonda is sorry, let her say so
06/06/00: NAPSTER exposes artists' hypocrisy
04/18/00: Not much difference between TV journalists, TV actors

© 2000, TMS