1. The big controversy as of this morning involved the New York Times front page photo, which managed to be cropped exactly at the point where former President Bush could have been seen. Given the Times’ proclivities, conservative blogs and Fox News presumed the snub was intentional. If it had been intentional, that would have indeed been disrespectful and unethical photojournalism. The Times explanation, however, seems reasonable. It tells us something, though, that nobody at the Times saw this coming. I think it’s incompetence born of bias. “Where’s Bush?” “He was too far down the line, so the photo looks lousy if he’s included.” “Damn. Well, put a note in explaining that.” Bias makes us stupid, and the fact that no Times editor had this conversation is, in fact, stupid.
2. If the NAACP was setting the place cards, and I assume they were, then Bush should have been second row center, and not an MSNBC demagogue and race-hustler who owes the U.S. back taxes. Talk about biased and stupid. The NAACP claims it wants to be a unifying force in the country, but it doesn’t. It promotes divisiveness,and intentionally. It’s good for business.
3. A graceful, fair, respectful and competent President of the United States would have insisted that his immediate predecessor be in a position of prominence, as part of the message that this event was an important part of the history of America and all Americans. It would have been the right thing to do. Bush would have done the same for him. But we do not have a graceful, fair, respectful and competent President. We have an arrogant, petty, self-absorbed and divisive one.
4. …who can, on occasion, rise to give an excellent speech, which he did.
5. The absence of Boehner and McConnell was disrespectful and incompetent as well, though I wonder where the NAACP and Obama would have placed them in the march.
6.Justice Clarence Thomas would have sent an interesting message if he attended, but what message? Would he be mocked? Mistreated? Would it be seen as insincere (as I’m sure many would portray the attendance of the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader, had they come.) If I were John Roberts, I would have made attendance by all nine Justices mandatory.
7. I think the big name conservatives and Republicans believed that they would be unwelcome. I think they were right. Does that mean, seeing this as the NAACP Show, that not attending was both prudent and ethical? If that was their reasoning, I think not attending was cowardly.
8. Even after the march re-creation, I read comments with links to website articles (and a tweet from Maria Shriver) saying that “no Republican leadership” and sometimes “no Republicans” attended. Though he apparently decided late, Majority House leader Rep.Kevin McCarthy was on hand, as well as Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Rep.Tom Emmer (R-MN), and GOP members of the Alabama congressional delegation, among other Republicans (including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus), over 20 in all. No, it wasn’t enough, but it was far from a mass snub of the event. This myth was confirmation bias, fed by lazy and perhaps malicious misrepresentation—and the news media allowed the misrepresentation to stick.
9. The Clintons didn’t make it. Fascinating: there was not much criticism sbout it, even though they decided to raise money for the Clinton Foundation instead—you know, priorities. Why is their skipping the event benign, while lack of GOP participation is treated as presumptively racist, and those Republicans who did come are suspected of being insincere, just trying to hide their real feelings? So let me get this straight: if the Clintons snub the event, it’s fine, because everyone knows they care, so they don’t have to show they care. They could spend the day rearranging their sock drawers, presumably (but that wouldn’t be profitable), and Al and the NAACP and Media Matters would pronounce it copacetic. But if a Republican leader had to attend their father’s funeral, or if he skipped the funeral to come, he’d still be placed in the cheap seats, and would harvest nothing but sneers. Am I missing something?
10. Where were Hispanic leaders? Native American leaders? Were they not invited? If not, why not?
11. If I were either Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman, I would have attended the march to show my support for civil rights and the courageous struggle of black Americans.
I wonder how that would have panned out?