Monday, September 12, 2005

Bush Squanders Black Vote Over Katrina

It seems like Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice may be one of the only African-Americans these days still enamored with President Bush. One of the more brilliant successes of the 2004 presidential election was how the GOP attracted a significant amount of the black, Latino, poor, middle class and blue-collar vote. Led by boy-genius Karl Rove, the Bushies, using a campaign smorgasbord of smoke and mirrors, deception and lies, convinced a critical amount of these traditionally Democratic voters that their fate--despite a hundred years of history to the contrary--lies better in the hands of Republicans. To illustrate the point, Bush captured 11% of the black vote, 11% of Latinos, 36% of income under $15,000, 49% of incomes $30,000-$50,000, and 40% of the union-member vote. These gains have been a major source of pride for the Bush administration. And in riding Bush's coattails, the GOP has been able to capture the House, the Senate and work through much of its aggressive conservative agenda. Mind-boggling as it is, these voters were masterfully lured to the polls over objections to gay marriage, and on the perceived strength of the president in leading the war on terror. Unfortunately, they were brainwashed into putting food, housing, education, health care, public works programs (read: levee upgrades ), privacy and other life essentials second.

But the love affair finally seems to be over. The government's colossal failure to orchestrate a timely, organized and effective rescue and relief effort in the critical hours and days after Hurricane Katrina struck, and the president's tepid, inept and stiff response during this period, have turned these voters against him. The New York Times reports today that African-Americans across the nation are outraged at how the mostly black and poor victims of the storm went days without food and water and were left to die in their flood-ravaged homes, in the streets, in the Superdome and in the Convention Center before the government could mobilize an effective rescue effort. A poll last week by the non-partisan Pew Research Center shows that two-thirds of blacks believe the government's response would've been faster if the majority of the victims were white. Bush's back is definitely up against a wall here. He's been skewered by wildly popular rap star Kanye West, who publicly claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people." And he's been heavily criticized for a series of personal mishaps, miscalculations and ill-timed photo-ops. These include his first visit to the region, where he avoided the hardest hit areas and its mostly black victims who were exisiting under the most horrific, inhumane conditions; his now infamous and incredulous statement to FEMA head Michael Brown on Sept 2 that "Brownie, you've done a heck of a job" despite a mound of evidence (which he himself had learned the day before according to Sunday's NY Times) to the contrary; his praise of white Republican Governors Haley Barbour and Bob Riley of Mississippi and Alabama respectively; and his gratuitous use of black preachers as damage-control props in Baton Rouge during his second trip to the Gulf.

Let's remember that Louisiana (57%), Mississippi (60%) and Alabama (62%) were Republican strongholds in '04, with the states, and much of the effected counties, solid Bush country. You can bet your bottom dollar that the White House, and more so the GOP with its eye keenly focused on next November's mid-term elections, is in a state of panic over the effect of African-American's likely abandonment of its party not only in the Gulf, but nationwide. The result would be politically catastrophic. Andy

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