Ok, George W. Bush finally spoke in front of the NAACP. After several "scheduling conflicts", he finally stood up in front of a group that has major issues with many of his policies. After growing a reputation for only speaking to groups of "friendlies", President Bush took a definite chance by scheduling this engagement.
NAACP chairman Julian Bond has expressed displeasure tonight on his Colbert Report appearance on his feelings that the President avoided the real issues that his coalition cares about...namely the war in Iraq and judicial appointments. Chairman Bond had been none too pleasant toward the President in comments at the convention before Bush's speech.
But Bush came anyway. And Chairman Bond, and more importantly, the audience, received him cordially.
No real questions were answered, no real solutions were offered. However, this appearance was a step (a small step, indeed, but a step) towards something we need much more of.
This "something" is politicians receiving their critics head-on, listening to their opinions, and then working to obtain the compromises which have, in the past. helped our country progress as a nation and as a society.
In a perfect world, President Bush would follow up his largely symbolic appearance with further, more meaningful dialogue with the NAACP and other groups who have been adverse to his policies. I'm none too optimistic about this actually happening, but we can dream. This isn't all the President's fault...he can't force a one day paradigm change. But this can be a stepping stone, if those in power on both sides choose to use it.