Thursday, November 03, 2005
WaPo columnist Courtland Milloy on the President's recent visit to Howard University, and the reaction of students who learned that they had been locked out of the campus cafeteria so that Mr. and Mrs. Bush could conduct a "youth summit":
During the protest, dozens of students locked arms around a flagpole in the Quadrangle, a designated forbidden zone at the center of the campus, and refused to move despite warnings from campus security that Secret Service rooftop snipers might open fire on them . . . .In light of the above, expect Mr. Bush's 2% approval rating among African-American voters to plummet.
The Republican Party is trying hard to win over black voters before the midterm elections, and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele needs the support of black Democrats in his bid to become the first black Republican in the U.S. Senate since Howard alumnus Edward Brooke of Massachusetts (1967-1979). So one thing Bush didn't want was a ruckus during a visit to Howard.
All he had to do was drop in on Soul Food Thursday, be seen sharing a wing and some collard greens with students -- and score one for the GOP.
But the visit went from bad to worse. On a day when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution paying tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who died last week, campus security guards were telling students that if they wanted to eat they'd have to come back when the president and first lady were gone, then go to a service door at the rear of the dining hall and ask for a chicken plate to go. Never mind that a student meal plan at Howard can cost as much as $2,500 a semester . . . .
To set off a student protest at this school, you'd have to be politically tone-deaf in the extreme, out of touch and flying blind. And yet, Bush did it.
God help us in Iraq.