WASHINGTON — As so many Republicans turned from the embarrassment caused by Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and began to give the appearance of really caring about racial harmony and equity, the leader of the party, President George W. Bush, took several actions that threaten to cast new darkness on the situation.

Bush has announced his intention of renominating judicial nominees who had been denied confirmation by the Democratic-controlled Senate of last year, including a couple of “poster boys” of the Old South, such as Mississippi judge Charles Pickering, who was the choice of Lott.

Bush has suggested that the nominees’ positions on racial matters are not on his mind. Rather it is their general judicial restraint and socially conservative views that he is promoting, the president says. Try telling that to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Last week, despite a number of leading senators and other leaders of the Republican Party urging him not to do so, Bush announced his opposition to the affirmative action program of the University of Michigan. To help realize its goal of having a strongly diverse student body at Ann Arbor, the university adds 20 points to the admissions-application scores of African Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans.

The venue for the president’s protest is the U.S. Supreme Court, where a case testing the constitutionality of the Michigan plan is being heard. He had his staff flesh out a “friend of the court” brief to oppose the university’s admissions program.

Bush says he “strongly supports diversity of all kinds, including racial diversity in higher education, but claims the method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal is fundamentally flawed.”

Bush always seems to be very progressive in his general concepts, but he never seems to be able to find a way to allow implementation of any specific instances of the lofty thoughts he expresses. Maybe that is why minorities find it difficult to trust him.

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