Monday, December 6, 2004

Bond vs. Mfume

“Don’t believe the well-scripted press conference where former president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Kweisi Mfume announced his resignation,” Armstrong Williams writes in Human Events Online ( “Mfume did not resign from the nation’s oldest and most prestigious civil rights organization. He was kicked out, following a long-simmering feud with NAACP Chairman Julian Bond.

“The two began feuding after Mfume nominated National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for his 2003 NAACP Image Award. Furious that Mfume was reaching out to the Bush administration, Bond responded by nominating ‘Boondocks’ cartoonist Aaron McGruder for his Image Award. McGruder had ridiculed Rice in his comic strip and later called her a ‘murderer’ for her role in the war in Iraq.

“The rift grew as Mfume continued to reach out to the Republican Party. Mfume realized that by reflexively voting Democrat in every election, the black voting populace has given away most of their political bartering power.”

It was Mr. Bond who in 2003 “referred to the Republican Party as ‘a crazed swarm of right-wing locusts’ and called the GOP “the white people’s party,” Mr. Williams notes.

After last month’s election, he adds: “Mfume suggested sending a letter to President Bush, mapping out ways that they could work together to help the community. Bond rejected the idea. Mfume sent the letter anyway. To Bond, this was unforgivable. A few weeks later, Bond had Mfume voted out. The message was clear: There is no room within the NAACP for intellectual diversity. Just loyal servitude to the Democratic Party.”

Curious criticism

“For no apparent reason, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats’ new leader, is denouncing Justice Clarence Thomas,” James Taranto writes in his Best of the Web Today column at

Mr. Reid, in an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said he might be able to support Justice Antonin Scalia as the next chief justice, but not Justice Thomas.

When host Tim Russert asked Mr. Reid why he opposed Justice Thomas, the senator replied: “I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don’t — I just don’t think that he’s done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.”

Mr. Taranto commented: “Now, we haven’t read Thomas’ entire oeuvre, but we’ve read quite a few of his opinions, and we wouldn’t describe any of them as ‘poorly written’ — much less so poorly written as to make him ‘an embarrassment to the Supreme Court.’ (One of our favorite opinions of recent years is Thomas’ dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 case upholding racial preferences in college admissions provided they’re vague enough.)

“It’s a shame Russert didn’t press Reid to name some Thomas opinions he considers to be poorly written. In the absence of such examples, one can’t help but suspect that the new Senate Democratic leader is simply stereotyping Thomas as unintelligent because he is black.”

Hand recount

The Washington secretary of state ordered an unprecedented statewide hand recount yesterday in the closest gubernatorial race in state history.

The action by Secretary of State Sam Reed was a mere formality: Under Washington law, anyone can get a recount as long as they pay for it. The Democratic Party is putting up more than $700,000 to fund the recount.

The race between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Christine Gregoire ended in a virtual dead heat in the first two counts. Mr. Rossi led by more than 200 votes after the initial count, triggering a machine recount.

Mr. Rossi then emerged with a 42-vote lead out of 2.9 million ballots cast after the recount.

The Democrats then ordered the manual recount and also went to the state Supreme Court to demand that some previously disqualified ballots be counted this time. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case Thursday.

Mr. Reed’s announcement to the 39 counties directs election departments to get started tomorrow or Thursday. The count will take until Christmas week in some counties, especially King County, where a third of the voters live, the Associated Press reports.

Three-person teams will do the work, with two persons counting the ballots and one recording the votes. Each three-person team will consist of one Democrat, one Republican and one county elections worker.

Fawning coverage

“After watching the umpteenth TV report on the national media’s new favorite politician, Barack Obama, I figure it is time for someone to say the obvious: Let’s get realistic about the new senator’s near-term political future,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m a critic of Obama. Far from it. When I first met him in October 2002, I knew that the then-state senator was a quality candidate. He was smart, articulate, personable and politically savvy,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“I just didn’t know whether he could raise enough money to compete with the wealthier Democratic candidates (such as millionaire Blair Hull) or those with strong organizational backing (including state Comptroller Dan Hynes).

“Now that the rest of the world has seen and met the Illinois senator-elect, many are smitten with him. That’s understandable. He has a terrific personal story, and a great way of communicating it.

“But forgive me for being just a bit tired of the fawning. The coverage of him simply has been over the top. He’s been on magazine covers and virtually every TV talk show. Heck, he’s probably received more face time than Wolf Blitzer. I’ve even heard his name floated as a potential Democratic presidential nominee in 2008. C’mon, let’s get real.”

Caucus leader

Rep. Melvin Watt, a North Carolina Democrat, is the new chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, it was announced yesterday. His vice chairman will be Florida Rep. Corrine Brown.

Mr. Watt, 59, said he looked forward to a new opportunity to work with the Bush administration, which, he noted, has refused to meet with the CBC, according to a report by

The November election added four new members to the caucus’ exclusively Democratic membership: Reps. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Al Green of Texas, and Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. The additions boosted the membership from 39 to 43.

Tobin to depart

Republican Governors Association Executive Director Edward T. Tobin announced yesterday he is leaving the RGA at the end of the year to return to the private sector.

Mr. Tobin came to the RGA from Microsoft Corp. in May of 2002. During his tenure, the RGA separated from the Republican National Committee and established itself as an independent 527 committee.

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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