Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, you should have been there

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It was nice to see all those folks going back to Selma to relive that bloody and horrible day in America’s history some fifty years ago.
I watched the activities on MSNBC this weekend, and seeing all those people coming together to say never again was a beautiful thing.
I saw all those people, but there were some very important people who unfortunately I did not see.
“Another day, another political leader (or two) failing to grasp the very simple concept of optics and symbolism.
Today’s what-the-hell-were-you-thinking winners are Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as it pertains to their respective no-shows to the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma. Did House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attend? Yes. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus? Yes. Former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush? Yes. Do all of these GOPers being in attendance mean Boehner and McConnell are excused for not taking a day to show unity around a truly historic event in our nation’s tumultuous history on race relations?
Absolutely not. Nor does it excuse Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid for not attending, nor the second and third ranking Senate Democrats (Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York) from blowing it off, either. But Boehner and McConnell are the focus here, and here’s why:
Optics is a topic that has been discussed before on this space, particularly as it pertains to President Obama and ill-advised tee times.
Note: As a fellow southpaw on the links and one who can appreciate the stress relief golf can provide regardless of score (I shot 62 this morning…on the front nine), nobody is begrudging someone with as stressful a job as Mr. Obama owns from getting away from it all for a few hours. It’s not exactly a new thing either: Democratic President Woodrow Wilson reportedly played 1200 rounds of golf.
Republican President Dwight Eisenhower racked up around 800. Nixon loved it. So did Clinton. Party is irrelevant. With Mr. Obama (who has played over 200 rounds, which suddenly looks relatively small), the issue around optics is not around playing golf, but the timing of certain outings…particularly last summer when he was on the first tee less than 20 minutes after a statement on American Jim Foley’s beheading by ISIS, and especially for not going to Paris following terror attacks there when many other world leaders found the time.
In Boehner’s and McConnell’s case, each appears to at least be wise enough to leave the clubs in the garage this weekend (especially Boehner–a scratch golfer). But that doesn’t make the optic of two-thirds of government leadership not being in Selma yesterday any less embarrassing for the Grand Old Party…” [Source]
I disagree with the writer. This is much more than just “optics”. This is personal to us black folks.
The two leaders of the republican party not being in Selma is a personal affront to every person of color in this country.
Republicans say that they want to reach out to minorities, but this is not how you do it. Talk is cheap. Show us that you are sincere by showing up in places like Selma.
I have a lot of issues with George W. Bush, but I give him credit for showing up in Selma.
Unfortunately, the current leaders in his party are causing folks like Colin Powell to say the following:
“I still see it in the Republican Party,” Powell said. “And I still see it in other parts of our country. You don’t have to be Republican to be touched by this dark vein.”
“America is still going through this transformation from where we were 50, 60 years ago,” Powell said.
“You have to remember it was just 60 or 70 years ago that we still had poll taxes, that we still had literacy tests in order to vote, that voting places were only open two days a week for African Americans. So we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”
I don’t think that people like John Boehner and  Mitch McConnell share the sentiments of Colin Powell.
To them, we have already arrived.


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