Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Never sell your vote on credit.

In return for their votes, Bush promised black evangelicals money to deliver social services; he didn't keep his promise - at least, not to them:

Complaints among black pastors who had been courted by the White House - while less pronounced than those of Latino leaders - have been fueled by a tell-all book by former White House aide David Kuo. The new book says that Bush, referring to pastors from one major African American denomination, once griped: "Money. All these guys care about is money. They want money."

A White House spokeswoman said Friday that nobody there recalled hearing such a comment from the president.

I'm not going to unpack all the irony in that paragraph, but I will say this: were I in the position of those evangelicals, I'd be focused on the money, too. Talk is cheap, especially in this administration:

The Rev. Eugene Rivers, a Boston Pentecostal minister and one of about two dozen black clergy invited to a series of White House meetings with Bush, said Friday that black leaders had been wooed with assurances that their social service groups would receive money from the president's faith-based initiative. But, Rivers said, the bulk of the money had gone to white organizations, leaving black churches on the sidelines.

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Meanwhile, the Republican effort to use immigration to pander to nativists, business, and latinos has failed on at least one front:

Democratic activists watched with amazement as Republicans pushed into law a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border and tried to make it a felony to migrate illegally or to help undocumented immigrants. The latter provision did not become law, but it especially angered some church leaders, who said it would have criminalized their religious duty to help the least privileged in society.

Despite Bush's lobbying for an immigrant guest-worker program, favored by many Latinos, conservative lawmakers in the House refused to bend, forcing Bush to endorse the fence legislation and dimming his popularity among Latinos.

A survey released this month by the Latino Coalition found Latino registered voters supporting Democrats over Republicans 56% to 19% in congressional elections. "If Republicans nationally get 25% of the Hispanic vote, it would be a miracle," said Robert de Posada, the coalition president.

That disaffection is felt among some of the Latino clergy who were courted by the White House.

The Rev. Danny de Leon of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, considered the biggest Latino bilingual church in the U.S., said that he was so frustrated with his party's response to immigration that he was likely to stay home rather than vote for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — and that he might also sit out the 2008 election.

"A lot of people are saying, 'Forget being a Republican. I want to go to the Democratic Party,' " said De Leon. "It's a shame that one issue has divided many of us that have been in the Republican Party for a long time and has brought us to ask the question: Do I or do I not want to belong to this party?"

Pastor Luciano Padilla Jr. of the Bay Ridge Christian Center in Brooklyn said he had backed Republicans because of their views on such issues as gay marriage and abortion. But in the midst of the immigration debate, he said, "We will have to look at where we put our allegiance in the future."

Cortes, of Esperanza USA, says he continues to respect Bush but now has doubts about the GOP. "That group in the Republican Party said, 'We want your parents, your grandparents, we want anyone here without documentation, regardless of why - we want them out,'" he said. "If voting is about personal interest, how are Hispanics to vote? They will vote against those guys."

From the Los Angeles Times, through the Democratic Strategist.