President Bush addressed the NAACP convention for the first time in his presidency, declaring that racism still exists and urging the Senate to renew the voting rights act:
"I understand that racism still lingers in America," Bush told the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "It's a lot easier to change a law than to change a human heart. And I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party."
That line generated boisterous applause and cheers from the thousands in the audience, which generally gave the president a polite, reserved reception.
"I consider it a tragedy that the party of Abraham Lincoln let go of its historical ties with the African-American community," Bush said. "For too long, my party wrote off the African-American vote, and many African-Americans wrote off the Republican Party."
Most of the president's remarks were greeted with smatterings of applause, but many in the convention center stood up to clap when he urged the Senate to renew a landmark civil rights law passed in the 1960s to stop racist voting practices in the South.
"President Johnson called the right to vote the lifeblood of our democracy. That was true then and it remains true today," Bush said.
I'm losing count, but I believe that Bush has now compared himself to Lincoln, FDR, Winston Churchill, JFK, and LBJ. He's positively progressive.
This is in sharp contrast to the same President Bush who declined one of many previous invitations to address the NAACP convention, choosing instead to address the Southern Baptist Convention and calling them "faithful servants" and praying for them while they adopted a policy that "homosexuals can find freedom from this sinful, destructive lifestyle" by accepting Jesus as their savior.
I wonder if Bush's newfound respect for the NAACP has something to do with this? Or this?