Of course, everyone in Black commentator-dom has a comment on President Bush's rare appearance and remarks before the NAACP annual convention in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Perhaps because it was convenient for him - only blocks away from the White House in downtown D.C. Jogging distance ... mountain-biking distance. Karl Rove to Bush: Mr. President, there was no need to waste precious Air Force One fuel on previous convention locations. I think we're good to go on this one.
Seriously though, it was no coincidence or sudden chance that he decided to show. NAACP head Bruce Gordon worked on this for some time through multiple closed door visits with the President in an attempt to make the organization relevant (there's been a lot of conversation recently about the organization's relevancy in the new century). We presume that D.C. was chosen during those private political liaisons for a number of reasons:
From the NAACP's perspective, it needed a central political location to establish policy supremacy during a very critical election year. To re-establish its relevancy as the traditional Black political vanguard is gradually aging itself into museum exhibits and being replaced by a more vigorous and younger professional core of African Americans that have engaged a fresh, new political style that breaks with the past.
From the Administration's perspective, timing is everything. Aware of the NAACP's dilemma, Bush agreed to what we believe was a conditional appearance. This is the really fascinating thing about his past rejection of the event: he played hardball. He did what no other modern American president would even fathom and used that to negotiate what amounted to perfect Republican timing - for the short term. Despite a short-lived GOP rebellion against the Voting Rights Act renewal, the Senate renewed it. It's all history and, with it, GOP insiders in denial that they can somehow reel in African American votes on false hope.