Minoritieshave a friendin President George W. Bush

While others get recognition from groups like the NAACP, the president is actually more deserving of minority praise.

Being that February is Black History Month, I figured I would peruse the NAACP Web site to gain insight on the importance of this month. I found out that new Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will receive the Chairman’s Award at the annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Awards. I thought this was quite the achievement for the freshman senator. That was, until I saw that past winners included the Dave Matthews Band and actor Danny Glover.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about champions of civil rights, drug-induced rockers and Cuban President Fidel Castro’s best buddy don’t come to mind. Does the award really bear the same merit for Obama given its past winners? It’s like having the “husband of the year award” given to you by previous winners former President Bill Clinton and Scott Peterson.

In addition to Obama’s award, Oprah Winfrey will be inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. Personally, I love Winfrey. Her show about maternity makeovers was especially moving. Even more noteworthy was her show asking, “Single women: Why are you alone?” Not only was that episode informative, it was touching as well (does anyone have a Kleenex?).

These awards themselves are not that offensive. Given the partisan behavior of the NAACP, it’s not shocking to find out that it would give an award to noted communist-sympathizer Glover. What is shocking is its glaring omission of a person who has brought a considerable amount of diversity to the forefront of our way of life. That person is President George W. Bush. If all Cabinet nominees are approved, Bush will have a more-diverse group of top advisers than any president in history.

Donna Brazille (former Al Gore presidential campaign manager and a black woman) said, “President Bush has opened new doors for minorities and women to consider the benefits of joining the ranks of the Republican Party.” She couldn’t be more correct.

Bush named Alberto Gonzales to be the first-ever Hispanic to hold the position of attorney general. Condoleezza Rice has been confirmed as the only black woman in history to be the secretary of state. Alphonso Jackson is secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cuban-born Carlos Gutierrez has been tapped to lead the Department of Commerce. The list goes on and on.

What does not is media coverage of this cabinet’s diversity. Did you know that during four years Bush has named five women, seven blacks, three Hispanics and two Asian Americans to cabinet positions? Prior to Bush, no minority had ever been nominated to any of the four most-prestigious cabinet positions. Bush has named three. You won’t find those stories in the Star Tribune.

Detractors might say Bush is only paying lip service to minorities, but that is an insult to the achievement of these nominees. They are some of the most-qualified, educated and talented people we have to offer. They earned their jobs because they were well-equipped to fill the position, not because of the color of their skin.

Having women and minorities close to him is not something new for Bush. Throughout his time as governor of Texas and his two presidential campaigns, he has always had a diverse group of advisers and confidants. Some Democrats even complained that in last year’s presidential election, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., had fewer blacks and Hispanics as top advisers than Bush did. There are more minorities at a Celine Dion concert than there were in Kerry’s campaign.

Not that having a campaign full of rich white men is a bad thing; it’s just surprising coming from the party of diversity and inclusiveness. Only after a CNN reporter wrote a column criticizing Kerry for the lack of diversity in his inner circle did he introduce more minorities into his campaign. It seems that the Democrats were the ones using minorities as window dressing.

It’s also ironic that liberals often stereotype the Republican Party as racist. Then, when Republicans appoint minorities to high-level positions, those minorities are often criticized and attacked by liberals.

Bush should get attention and accolades for his diverse nominations. More media coverage of the diverse group of nominees would be a positive influence on minority groups and show that the United States is coming together. Bush is furthering the idea that the Republican Party believes that hard work will be rewarded regardless of race.

In 2001, Clinton won the NAACP’s President’s Award, which is determined by the organization’s president, currently Dennis Courtland Hayes. Bush is not asking for any awards, but clearly deserves them. Maybe Bush will get more recognition if he gives everyone in the White House press corps a new car like Winfrey did with her audience.

Gregg Knorn is a University student and welcomes comments at [email protected]