September 20, 2005


Storm Strains Bush's Ties to Black Clergy: Recovery efforts now give the GOP a chance to rebound from initial political missteps. (Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger, September 20, 2005, LA Times)

For many of the black ministers who have allied themselves with President Bush and a Republican strategy to boost the party's African American support, the government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina put a severe strain on new and still-fragile bonds of trust.

But just as some ministers had denounced a government recovery effort that seemed to leave many blacks in the gulf region behind, a number of those African American clergy say an aggressive outreach campaign by Bush and senior White House aides in recent days has begun reversing what might have been lasting political damage.

Moreover, the ministers — as well as a cadre of conservative policy analysts who consult with the White House — contend that the Katrina relief response, though tarnishing the GOP image in the short term, could foster a Republican-led battle against poverty that would give the party a list of new selling points for African American voters who have long viewed Democrats as the best advocates for the downtrodden.

With the federal government spending tens of billions of dollars on the recovery, Republicans have a chance not only to appeal to minorities by creating jobs and other economic opportunities but also to use the rebuilding effort as a real-world test of such long-discussed conservative ideas as school vouchers, enterprise zones and the use of faith-based groups to provide social services.

"The strategic question is whether or not the White House senior staff are smart enough to seize this historic and strategic opportunity," said the Rev. Eugene Rivers, pastor of Boston's Azusa Christian Community and one of about two dozen African American ministers Bush has courted heavily. "If they fail to practice the compassionate conservatism that they have preached, history may not be kind to them.

Plenty smart enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2005 8:48 AM

Looks like some black ministers are smart enough to demand the same loot from Republicans that they've historically gotten from Democrats.

Posted by: pj at September 20, 2005 9:09 AM

And this GOP smart enough to pay it.

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2005 9:15 AM

Unfortunately the meme that the federal response was intolerably slow and all the feds fault (not NO mayor, not LA governor) has taken hold and that no one is even bothering to refute it anymore. This causes Bush to overspend to get his support back which is hurting him with the conservative base.

Posted by: AWW at September 20, 2005 9:43 AM

Do whatever you want, Brer Fox, just don't make me spend billions of dollars in the South.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 20, 2005 9:56 AM

In our base?

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2005 10:30 AM

The money will be spent. The idea is to throw as much of it as we can to faith-based organizations.

Every individual benefitted by such money will be asking himself whether he would be better off if the money were going to the politicians instead of the pastors.

Dismantle their machine; establish ours.

Of course, the MSM and other leftist organs are doing their best to whip up Negro paranoia concerning the hurricane: that's all right, money talks, bull***t walks.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 20, 2005 12:39 PM

Yeah - they'd better be careful or black Louisanians may not vote Republican in the next presidential election!

Posted by: Shelton at September 20, 2005 1:10 PM

Mr. Sheldon, a 10% change in voting habits in the
'black' community will destroy the Democrat machine. A small risk for such a large end goal is smart politics.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at September 20, 2005 4:03 PM

Nothing the republican party can do will change the voting habits of black Americans. As more blacks move into the middle class more blacks will vote republican, and that is entirely up to the black community at this point.

Posted by: Shelton at September 20, 2005 6:23 PM


Why would they be unique? Cohorts often switch to the party they perceive as serving their interests.

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2005 6:35 PM

Because racism isn't rational and it clouds their perception.

The republican party serves black americans far better than the democratic party -- is has now for decades. But the political race card (played by the democrats and by greedy black religious leaders)and the racism it breeds has corraled black america into a fanatical support for the democratic party that is so bigoted and irrational that it can not be penetrated by normal modes of discourse and political persuasion.

Yet when black americans work hard to make a good life for themselves and realize that the classist and racist statements made by their leaders can just as easily be applied to them as to their white next door neighbor, they begin to come around to a political reassesment.

Posted by: Shelton at September 20, 2005 7:23 PM

They joined the Democrats despite the party's racism when FDR was ladling out goodies.

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2005 7:32 PM

Shelton: That's exactly the point: greedy black religious leaders are the ones who benefit by every dollar shifted back from the state to the church--not that there's anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 20, 2005 7:42 PM

Everyone was racist in FDR's generation.

The black voting block is the most monolitic of all, and could be said to be the only real voting block in the US. Check out the stats:

Any cohort you can imagine, any possible way of dividing up the US population (non politically) gives a relatively even voting split between democrat and republican: race (other than black), gender, age, income, marital status, employment, education, religion, military service, gun ownership, city size, etc.

Only the black vote is as unbalanced as 90/10%. The closest any other group comes is homosexual at 80/20%.

This means there is something abnormal and wrong-headed about the way blacks decide to vote. Listen to any random speech by any random black leader and you can easily find out what that problem is.

Posted by: Shelton at September 20, 2005 7:55 PM

Lou -

giving in to blackmail is not a good way to reform a blackmailer. The black preachers will gladly accept checks signed by GWB. And they'll go on TV the day the check clears and blame whitey and the GOP for all the failures of their own community. Racism is not only irrational and self destructive, it is also durable and persistent.

The GOP strategy needs to be to wait it out. Keep up the good work of growing the US economy and eventually more and more blacks will begin to have more opportunities to become successful. But you can't help an alcoholic until he is ready to quit on his own.

Posted by: Shelton at September 20, 2005 8:03 PM


Southern Whites were still Democrats, so the GOP actually wasn't all that racist in policy terms.

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2005 8:04 PM


But if you can get the Thunderbird franchise why help the alcoholic get clean?

Posted by: oj at September 20, 2005 8:10 PM

If you really believe everybody's racist and out to get you, wouldn't you want to be an ally of the majority party? When 1932 showed that Democrats were going to replace Republicans as the majority party for a long time, blacks who believe in white racism only took a few years to jump ship. Once it sinks in that the Republicans are a new majority party, we'll see a shift. The only question is how big.

Posted by: pj at September 21, 2005 8:55 AM