Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the RNC, will go to the NAACP convention in Milwaukee and basically apologize for the “southern strategy” used by great effect by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and other Republican candidates to inject race as a wedge issue into elections; appealing to white voters by exploiting their fears of racial integration.
“By the ’70s and into the ’80s and ’90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out,” Mehlman says in his prepared text. “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”
Well, that’s very nice, Ken; better late than never, I suppose. However, it might be a little more effective if the Republicans and the Bush administration had not cut funding for grants for after-school, family literacy, and adult education programs, not taken a stand at every turn against affirmative action, and not used the code words “states rights” — which translates into Confederate flags, Bull Connor, and lynchings in the minds of most southern blacks — in every campaign since Richard Nixon. Oh, and instead of having Ken Mehlman deliver the message, why doesn’t President Bush address the NAACP? He’s the first president since Herbert Hoover to stiff them. Perhaps he’s afraid of going in front of an audience that hasn’t been put through the loyalty detectors.