In answering the question as to whether President Bush should go to this year’s NAACP convention, one factor should not come into the equation: whether the NAACP deserves a visit from the man its officials have repeatedly and so unjustly insulted.
“Deserve it?” Of course they don’t. This isn’t the issue. The only factor that President Bush should consider when making this decision is this: what’s in it for him. This factor applies both politically and personally.
For either decision, there will be political drawbacks, easily foreseen through the nature of the entity with which he’s dealing.
Choice one: the president accepts the renewed invitation.
• He will be seen as reasonable and gracious toward an entity that (seemingly) wants him there and wants to bury the hatchet, so to speak.
• He will be perceived as being afraid of the consequence of not showing up.
• His presence could be viewed as pandering toward a black Democratic constituency, which, judging from the 2000 presidential election results, means nearly all black Americans.
Choice two: the president refuses the renewed invitation.
He will have the high-ground, in that he refuses to cater to a special interest group that has repeatedly excoriated him and issues an implied threat while extending the “olive branch.”
• He will be perceived as being afraid to face this group
Basically, the president can’t win, nor can he lose. (Recall that he was criticized by some black people for paying homage to Dr. Martin Luther King’s memory earlier this year.) All he can do is pray and follow his conscience.
If I were him, I’d accept the renewed invitation and make sure that every single word and image is recorded for posterity. Christian gesture? Maybe, though Paul (I think) warned against wasting words on the deaf. The deaf won’t be the only ones in attendance, however.
UPDATE: Julian Bond just can’t seem to stop himself. He has a curious way of making the president feel welcome.
"They preach racial neutrality and practice racial division," Bond said Sunday night in the 95th annual convention's keynote address. "They've tried to patch the leaky economy and every other domestic problem with duct tape and plastic sheets. They write a new constitution of Iraq and they ignore the Constitution here at home."On second thought, perhaps the president should save his pearls. (See LaShawn’s and Michael’s commentary on the situation.)