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Rove to Chimp: round up the faith-based 'brothers'

As the upcoming, ridiculous smokescreen event, A National Day of PrayerTM approaches, the NYT runs a hilarious story on desperate attempt to get the recuitment of evangelical black voters back on track, “Gulf Coast Isn’t the Only Thing Left in Tatters; Bush’s Status With Blacks Takes Hit.”

The flailing course-correction effort has Turdblossom working to corral as many of the bought-off pastors and get them out in front of the cameras as possible. At the top of Rove’s list is millionaire preacher T.D. Jakes, who will be leading the Day of PrayerTM.

…behind the scenes in the West Wing, there has been anxiety and scrambling – after an initial misunderstanding, some of the president’s advocates say, of the racial dimension to the crisis.

One of Mr. Bush’s prominent African-American supporters called the White House to say he was aghast at the images from the president’s first trip to the region, on Sept. 2, when Mr. Bush stood next to Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama, both white Republicans, and praised them for a job well done. Mr. Bush did not go into the heart of New Orleans to meet with black victims.

I said, ‘Grab some black people who look like they might be preachers,’ ” said the supporter, who asked not to be named because he did not want to be identified as criticizing the White House. Three days later, on Mr. Bush’s next trip to the region, the president appeared in Baton Rouge at the side of T. D. Jakes, the conservative African-American television evangelist and the founder of a 30,000-member megachurch in southwest Dallas.

Bishop Jakes, a multimillionaire and best-selling author, is to deliver the sermon this Friday at the Washington National Cathedral, his office said, where Mr. Bush will mark a national day of prayer for Hurricane Katrina’s victims. The bishop’s style of preaching is black Pentecostal – he roars and rumbles in performances that got him on the cover of Time magazine as “America’s best preacher” in 2001. More important to Mr. Rove, he has become a vital partner in the White House effort to court the black vote.

The story continues to nakedly tie the faith-based cash flow party to the Bush newfound public love of the darkies in the storm zone, as Bush made sure some face time to his shuffling minions as damage control. He had plenty of takers ready to belly up to the bar for the Chimp.

Last week, the White House continued its political recovery effort among African-Americans through its network of conservative black preachers like Bishop Jakes. Many of them have received millions of dollars for their churches through Mr. Bush’s initiative to support religious-based social services – a factor, Republicans say, in Mr. Bush’s small increase in support among black voters, from 9 percent in 2000 to 11 percent in 2004.

On Tuesday in the Roosevelt Room, Mr. Bush met with black preachers and leaders of national charities, and sat next to Bishop Roy L. H. Winbush, a black religious leader from Louisiana [and, along with Jakes, a strong supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment]. On Thursday, two senior White House officials, Claude Allen and James Towey, held a conference call with black religious leaders to ask what needed to be done. Mr. Towey is the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and Mr. Allen, who is African-American, is the president’s domestic policy adviser.

One Bush supporter, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, the president of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, a coalition that represents primarily black churches, said last week that something positive might come out of the crisis. “This is a moral and intellectual opportunity for the Bush administration to clearly articulate a policy agenda for the black poor,” Mr. Rivers said in an interview.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding