After a Hiatus, a President at NAACP

AP provides video of a memorable moment in President Barack Obama’s address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People:

What a difference a few years make.

George W. Bush repeatedly refused to address the NAACP. It isn’t that Bush is a racist, though his campaign was perfectly willing to deploy race to win elections, as with the dirty trick pulled on John McCain (and his family!) in South Carolina in 2000. Rather, Bush would not address the NAACP for the same reason he would not talk to certain politicians or entire other countries. He was so insecure that he could not deal with criticism, and his response to a critique of his policies was to cut the critic off at the knees. Politically aware African-Americans disliked his Iraq War and they disliked his assault on civil liberties and his creation of a new class of fabulously wealthy bottom feeders at the expense of productive workers. Bush did things like appoint African-American judges, but only if they were very conservative. Bush could not deal with the NAACP because he does not really believe in ideological diversity and because his commitment to an imperial presidency transformed criticism of the White House in his mind into an offense that needed to be punished by an imperial hissy fit.

In contrast, the first thing Barack Obama after his inauguration was to go to a party with conservative op-ed columnists of the sort guaranteed to snipe at him repeatedly. Bush would have boycotted such critics.

It isn’t only racial diversity that makes for a vibrant Republic but also diversity of views. Obama invokes both (20 percent of self-described conservatives who cast ballots in 2008 voted for Obama according to exit polls), which is why his style of leadership is far healthier for us all than that of W.

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