A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
George Bush signed a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) yesterday in a lavish White House photo-op with 600 guests. "My administration will vigorously enforce the provisions of this law, and we will defend it in court," he declared. But why start now?
The VRA is now more than four decades old, and has been in effect for Bush's entire presidency. It's designed to help minorities vote fairly, but Bush has all but ignored its provisions. Bush was in power during the aftermath of two presidential elections and one mid-term election that have all had massive irregularities.
But he's done nothing to fix the problems that helped him gain and keep office, problems that have disenfranchised scores of voters, mainly minorities. He signed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which has given millions to his buddies in Diebold and other voting machine companies, but has accomplished little to prevent discrimination. Remember all those Ohioans who were at the polls for hours in 2004? They happened to be in a demographic that tends not to support Republicans.
And don't forget when GOP members of the House tried to kill or water down the VRA earlier this month.
"The Administration has turned a blind eye to voter suppresion tactics moving in states across the country - photo identification provisions, citizenship requirements, and provisional ballots," People for the American Ways President Ralph Neas noted today in a warning similar to this one.
Bush's attitude on racial policy is clear other from areas besides voting. He's been a fervent opponent of affirmative action. And then there's No Child Left Behind, which set out admirable goals of equality but was never funded. Earlier this month BuzzFlash reported on the Administration's decision to delay a pending deadline to ensure poor schools had fully qualified teachers because no states were in compliance. Now there's a great way to solve the problem.
The only diversity Bush has shown an appreciation for is when he happens to find someone who will agree with him and happens to look different. Just look at Condi, Gonzales, and Clarence Thomas clone Jerome Holmes, confirmed to the bench by the Senate earlier this week.
Can anyone remember a time Bush has actually acted to protect a single group in the minority, other than the richest 1% of Americans?
Don't get us wrong- we're glad he signed the bill, although another veto would have been a great complement to the Stem Cell Research Act. But there's no reason to think this little reminder that the VRA still exists is going to actually change his behavior.
The timing of the passage of the bill (the law didn't actually expire for another year) and his first speech as president to the NAACP are certainly interesting given that the mid-term elections are just three months away. The GOP must be absolutely terrified to suddenly be going after the black vote, even with just empty promises.
"I've got to take [Bush at his] word but we've got to hold his feet to the fire," said Rep. David Scott (D-GA) today after the VRA signing. We can't think of a single reason to trust Bush on anything anymore, but the second idea sounds pretty good.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS