When Kanye West said that, he provoked a firestorm of criticism. Yet taking the comments in a milder form, I think there might be something to it. I sincerely doubt that President Bush sits in his oval office, cackling at the prospect of directing pain and misery toward his African-American constituency. If a staunch Bush critic like Paul Begala can affirm, in the midst of an otherwise furious attack on everything Bush, that the President has not "a racist bone in his body," then that's good enough for me. But I do think the President has not even a vague grasp of what issues and policies are important to the Black community, and displays very little curiosity in finding them out (to put it another way, he doesn't push the button).
At his first NAACP speech in 6 years as President, for example, what theme did the President hit up? The Estate Tax. It is difficult to find an issue further removed from the interests of the Black rank-and-file than the Estate Tax. There are millions of Black people in America. A grand total of 59 of them will be paying the Estate Tax next year. Meanwhile, Bush's much touted push to fight poverty has completely petered out now that Katrina is off the radar screen. In his whole speech before the NAACP, he didn't mention it once.
It's not active animosity, anymore, that explains why people no longer respond to Black concerns. It's a lack of curiosity. Bush doesn't care about Black people, and he demonstrates it by not caring enough to find out what Black people care about.