A Man for All Races
Mitt Romney received a standing ovation at the NAACP convention. Really. Even though practically every media outlet failed to mention that important tidbit and instead focused on the boos he provoked after his comments on ObamaCare. Approximately half of the audience rose to their feet at the end of Romney's speech.
While applauding the fact that Romney attended the convention, Congressional Black Caucus leader Rep. Cleaver remarked: "I don't know if [Romney] has any African-Americans advising him at the top of his campaign staff, but it would have been horrible advice -- if someone gave it to him -- to go into the NAACP convention in Houston, Texas, and then criticize President Obama."
Black conservative blogger Kira Davis, in her YouTube and post, "To Rep. Cleaver: This Message was NOT Pre-approved by the NAACP," blasted Cleaver's criticism. Her entire response is well worth listening to in its entirety. Davis said:
Romney deserves respect for wading in where he knew he would not be wanted. Black liberals complain all the time that conservatives and Republicans don't engage them enough in the political realm, and then when they do go directly into our communities to debate and conversate [sic] they're treated like crap. Then liberals wonder all over again why those nasty, racist Republicans don't have the stones to bring their message into our communities. Well, Mr. Cleaver - here's a man with stones. He came to speak, not pander. I know you and your ilk at the Black Caucus and NAACP have made pandering an art, but you should at least have a little respect for a man who is willing to be honest about his views and not temper those views simply based on the color of the people he is addressing.
In his analysis of the reaction to Romney's speech, Thomas Lifson wrote: "Put aside race for a moment. These were mostly Protestants, many of whom are active in churches, standing in approval of a Mormon's religious convictions. Something happened here worth examining closely." Indeed, it was during Romney's religious remarks and support for traditional marriage that the audience became positively engaged.
Maybe columnist and author Star Parker was on to something when she wrote about the "Sunday-Tuesday Gap" in black America. According to Parker,
The black church has always played a central role in black American life. Blacks attend church with greater frequency than any ethnic group in the nation[.] ... On Sunday, blacks hear preachers talk about traditional values, about family, about personal responsibility, about the sanctity of life. On Tuesday they go to the polls and vote for candidates that support abortion, moral relativism, and government dependence.
Although the NAACP officially came out a couple of months ago in support of Obama's newly evolved position on gay marriage, US News reports that the 1,300-member Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP) "has an almighty bone to pick with President Barack Obama. The Tennessee-based clergy group is calling on black pastors from around the country to join them in rejecting the president for his stance on same-sex marriage." The coalition has repeatedly asked for a meeting with Obama to discuss their views, but so far the president has refused.
A few weeks ago, Eric Holder's Justice Department held a meeting for some prominent black pastors to teach them, according to a cynical Human Events analysis, "how to stay on the right side of election law and preserve their tax-exempt status while they're assisting the Obama re-election campaign." That Justice Department meeting was endorsed by Cleaver. According to the Washington Examiner:
Cleaver said they would not tell pastors which candidate to support. They will let them know who to regard as the bad guys, though (hint: not Democrats). "We're going to talk about some of the draconian laws that have cropped up around the country as a result of the 17 percent increase in African American votes," Cleaver said, describing voter ID laws as a form of Jim Crow-style "poll tax" on seniors and black voters.
Perhaps the pastors weren't told "which candidate to support," but were they supplied with campaign talking points and, further, instructed on which topics to avoid? Besides the "draconian" fact that IDs are required to apply for food stamps, how about Obama's position on gay marriage? Were any of the pastors from the CAAP invited to that meeting?
In 2010, in the post "I Can See November from my Pew," I described the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund)'s annual "Pulpit Initiative." The initiative, held on a Sunday each September, is also described not as a push for endorsing or opposing particular candidates, but rather as an effort to "restore the right of pastors to speak freely from the pulpit ... on any number of cultural and societal issues from a biblical perspective." (I wonder if Holder has offered his Justice Department's assistance to the pastors involved in ADF's program.)
The NAACP's board consists of many religious leaders, and in the wake of its newly issued support of gay marriage, at least one black pastor has resigned.
Obama's failure to address this year's NAACP convention surprised many. CNN reports that the White House previously had cited a scheduling conflict and was sending Joe Biden in Obama's stead; however, the White House schedule appeared to be "wide open."
Perhaps Obama's campaign advisors were concerned, considering that CAAP was going to attend the NAACP convention in protest, of the possibility that a "Sunday voter" in the audience might have booed the president's remarks. It only takes one pebble to start an avalanche.
This November, perhaps many black voters will see past the color of Obama's skin and the (D) after his name -- not only from their pews on Sunday, but at the voting booths on Tuesday.