Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Some Presidentinal Words on the Racial Divide

This is a copy of the article taken from the EURWeb

BUSH ADDRESSES COUNTRY’S RACIAL DIVIDE: During Tuesday press conference, President asked how he would bridge gap post Katrina and Bill Bennett.

*Yesterday, President Bush held a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House to underscore his support for new Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers and to ask Congress to please have her confirmed by Thanksgiving.

But midway through the following Q&A session – which covered everything from the budget, to Hurricane Katrina, to the war in Iraq – American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan stood up and said this:

“Mr. President, the Bible speaks of ‘good will toward the least of these.’ With that, how are you going to bridge the divide of poverty and race in this country, beyond economics and home ownership; that, after Hurricane Katrina and also the Bill Bennett statements? And also, how can the Republican Party gain the black vote in 2008 after these public relations fiascos?”

Bush uttered an overwhelmed “mmmph” before taking a long breath to explain the virtues of economics and home ownership in bridging the racial gap – either ignoring or forgetting Ryan’s request that he come up with solutions beyond those two areas.

He began by stressing the encouragement of “economic growth, vitality, jobs that pay well and small business” in conquering the divide. He said: “It’s a part of how we enable people to realize dreams, by having a growing economy.”

In his praise of ownership, he said: “I think it’s essential that people own something if they’re going to have a stake in the future of our country. I think part of the divide occurs because some people own a home and others don’t.”

He then tossed in education as a means to narrow the gap, using the opportunity to plug his No Child Left Behind Act, “which challenges what I’ve called the soft bigotry of low expectations” and is “beginning to make good results,” he said.

He next touted the importance of faith-based programs “to interface with people” and “help them to have hope.”

“And obviously the tone matters from leadership,” he summed up. “It matters what leaders say. It matters that somebody, first of all, understands there’s a problem and is willing to talk about it. And I will continue to do so as the President.”

He was about to take another question when Ryan reminded him to answer the question of earning black votes in 2008.

“My head’s not there yet. I’m right here in 2005,” he said, cracking a wide grin. When Ryan pressed further to get an answer, Bush said: “You just gotta keep asking for the vote.”

“First of all, the Republican Party should never take a vote for granted, and neither should the Democrat party,” he said. “Therefore, that means you gotta go out and work hard for the vote, and talk about what you believe. I try to do so, with not a lot of success. I’ve improved, but I was disappointed, frankly, in the vote I got in the African American community. I was. I’ve done my best to elevate people into positions of authority and responsibility; and not just positions, but positions in which they can actually make a difference in the lives of people. I put people in my cabinet. I put people in my sub-cabinet, I’ve elevated people from all walks of life, because I believe there’s a responsibility for the President to reach out. So it’s not a matter of tone, it’s also a matter of action.”

His grin came back as he shrugged, tapped the podium and said: “I just gotta keep workin’ at it, April.”

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