Bush Makes End Run Around Black Leaders


WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 19—With Jesse Jackson calling George W. Bush the victor in “a coup d’etat, led by the U.S. Supreme Court,” African American leaders stepped up their attacks on the “legitimacy” of the new administration.

Jackson plans rallies at federal buildings around the country during the days before the January 20 inauguration. L.A. congresswoman Maxine Waters says she’ll boycott the inauguration itself. “I think I will not have healed by that time and will not be prepared to be in a celebratory mood,” she told Roll Call. Ditto for Congressman Donald Payne from New Jersey, who won’t attend either.

Congressional Black Caucus members in Washington are furious with Bush, who they believe is trying to blindside them by appointing African Americans to highly visible posts, such as Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser and Colin Powell as secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Bush is moving to circumvent black civil rights leaders by creating a new office of faith-based welfare in the White House. All this is very much according to a script written at the Republican convention in Philadelphia. There, Bush’s chief domestic adviser, Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and current contender for a cabinet post as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, led a revival meeting of black ministers in a Baptist church, promising churches, especially black churches, a major new role in a Bush administration. Both Bush and GOP theoreticians at the Heritage Foundation argue belief in a God of some sort makes a person a better citizen. That being the case, they want to pump up churches, giving them control over day care centers, drug rehabilitation projects, welfare-to-work programs, schools funded by vouchers, and even—as in Texas—parts of prisons.

For this to happen, Congress must pass legislation increasing tax benefits for giving to charities as well as liberalizing government rules so that churches can receive more public welfare funds. Bush wants to introduce a $500 tax credit for individuals who contribute to charities that work with the poor.

Despite his telephone exchange with the new president last week, Jackson lay down a blistering attack at a Los Angeles press conference, in which he charged that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has a conflict of interest because she supposedly said at an election night party that what then appeared to be the election of Gore would be “terrible.” Jackson said Clarence Thomas has a similar conflict, because his wife works at the Heritage Foundation, which is pushing individuals for top jobs in the Bush administration and driving key parts of the Republican agenda.