Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Trend Away, Trend Away, We Will Cross The Mighty Ocean To Lagos Bay III

Rich Galen gives some idea of how the real pros view the ongoing demolition of the Democrats' relationship with African Americans. The view from the Right is not that different from the view from the Left as voiced by the brilliant Donna Brazille - and ignored by Democrats apparently determined to take their most important constituency for granted. Mr. Galen writes, in part:

The National Democrats are on their bi-weekly whine, wringing their hands about the lack of coverage they are getting in the popular press. The coverage might not be what they want.

For example, the NAACP is in Miami Beach this week for its annual meeting. There was a time when no Democrat could afford to miss an annual meeting - certainly no Democrat running for the nomination for the Presidency.

Yet, this year, three candidates for President - two of them "top-tier" - decided the trip to South Beach wasn't worth their time: Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman were no-shows as well as Dennis Kucinich.

In an apparent effort to soften the blow of non-attendance, according to Nedra Pickler's Associated Press reporting, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, pointing to the empty chairs, said: "In essence, you now have become persona non grata. Your political capital is the equivalent of Confederate dollars."


The problems that the NAACP is having is not limited to the President or even Democratic candidates for President. A few months ago the Democratic National Committee, in the throes of a serious funding crisis brought about by Campaign Finance Reform, laid off ten staffers. They were all Black.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) went into a rage and caused DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe to backpedal, rescind the firings, and hire two African American former Clinton Administration staffers to quell the storm.

On top of that, an article in The Hill newspaper said that the CBC has now started a feud with Senator Lieberman and Presidential candidate Howard Dean over statements regarding Africa.

Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of the war in Iraq has been less-than-enthusiastic about US military intervention in Liberia. Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ) a member of the CBC "denounced Lieberman" at a Democratic Caucus meeting according to Hans Nichols' reporting.

Howard Dean, in his appearance on "Meet the Press," complained that Tim Russert's questions were "frivolous" and were "like asking me who the ambassador to Rwanda is." CBC member Jesse Jackson, Jr. was quoted by The Hill as suggesting Dean should "offer an explanation as to why he thinks Rwanda is not important."

So the NAACP is mad at three Presidential candidates, the Congressional Black Caucus is angry with another, everyone appears to be angry with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

African Americans are the staunchest supporters of the Democratic party (Al Sharpton pointed out at the NAACP meeting that they give "92 percent" of their votes to Democratic candidates) so, you might think all this would be of some interest to the mainstream press as they follow the ebbs and flows of the early political season.

If the National Democrats were getting the coverage they have demanded, this Black v. White battle in the Democratic Party would be front page news.

Mr. Galen is right that the story is very big, and is not getting the mainstream media coverage it deserves. But a lot of African Americans are probably following it - and that's what counts substantively.

And Mr. Galen does not note an even more striking manistream media lacuna: There have been no mainstream media "thought pieces" (no Sunday New York Times magazine meditations, for example) on the amazing declne - a fall of eleven percent - in the number of African-Americans identifying themselves as "Democrats" in the past three years.

The roles of Condi and Colin in stimulating that drop might be particularly interesting.

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