George Bush, champion of civil rights?

Aside from my disquieting good looks, I’d say one of my greatest shortcomings has to be my love for TV. Now, I don’t love TV in the way that I happily relay whole episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond to unsuspecting friends or make knowing references to the Huxtable or Keaton families, but I find myself constantly distracted by the TV’s presence. Turn one on in a room and I’ll stop mid-sentence to stare blankly. It’s sort of a Pavlovian response, I guess the result of years of electronic companionship, and it’s gotten me in trouble more than once. Just last Thursday I was at the airport, stealing designer knockoff watches when someone switched on FOX News and I congealed. My eyes glazed over, my jaw went slack and I left a black Baume and Mercier copy hanging halfway out of the baby’s diaper. George Bush had just been booed away as he attempted to lay a wreath at the grave of Martin Luther King Jr. and Fox News was having a field day. And I was their tool.

Apparently the eight hundred plus protestors doubted the sincerity of Bush’s visit to New Orleans, speculating perhaps it was just a convenient election year stop. They pounded drums and pushed past Secret Service barricades, chanting things like “Bush go home,” “In 2004, Bush no more,” and the ever popular “War is not the answer.” There were only two arrests and city officials drove in busses to block the crowd. The whole time Bush stood stoically, head bowed, with his back to the crowd solemnly paying respects to the assassinated civil rights leader. Some witnesses claim the president was crying, while others maintain he was actually humming the theme song to The Howdy Doody Show under his breath.

Now, I can understand people’s misgivings about Bush’s motives, after all, he has made no such gesture in the prior three years of his presidency, and received only 9 percent of the black vote in 2000. It’s pretty apparent his visit was simply for show. But you can’t fault Bush for courting the black vote. It’s just good politics. But this sort of subterfuge is just asinine. Why doesn’t he just come out and admit what he’s up to?

Whatever happened to just saying, “I want your vote.” We’re all adults here. Let’s lay our cards on the table. Forget the photo-op. Forget inviting King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to stand beside you even though she has vocally opposed almost every single move you’ve made since becoming president. Forget the speech at Union Bethel Church where you praise the power of faith in black communities while secretly furthering your own white protestant agenda to eliminate the Constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state. Why don’t you just treat the African American voters in this country with an iota of respect and be honest with them?

“I am the one who’s cutting affirmative action, sending your sons to Iraq, undermining your civil rights and destroying your chances at success in this economy. I have shown time and time again I don’t give a shit about the lower classes in this country and I would really like it if you would vote for me. And if you don’t vote for me it doesn’t really matter anyhow because I can make your votes disappear. I know people.”

Try it. Honest, short and to the point. People respect you for it and you can get to your five thousand dollar a plate “fund raiser” that much sooner. Then Fox news has nothing to report on and a sixteen-year-old security guard at PDX doesn’t arrest me. Everybody wins.