Michael nails this one nicely. Generally, the US government works off a speak no evil policy where, if they're not talking about a problem, it doesn't exist. It's quite convenient, actually, appearing as less an oligarch's callousness than a child's sweet, blissful ignorance. The government couldn't have done anything, they didn't even know!
Which brings us to Bush's grossly self-serving use of African-American life expectancies. Having spent four years doing nothing to make their lot better, he suddenly revealed a full knowledge of black inequality. Which means he has spent four years being aware that African-Americans die before their time and, with the entire power of the American government arrayed before him, consciously chose to do nothing about it. And he has decided, finally, to publicly acknowledge it not in order to rectify the injustice, but to push an unrelated policy that'll help -- guess who? -- rich white folks.
Bush has done a lot of disappointing things. He's done a lot of nasty things. But I don't think anything he's done has been so flippantly cruel, so off-handedly manipulative. He's the one man in this country truly empowered to improve the life expectancy for the African-American community, yet he prefers to dangle their early deaths as an immutable state of affairs in order to achieve a wholly unrelated policy goal. Bush is truly the sort of guy who'd walk up, armed, to an in-progress mugging and try to sell the victim better running shoes cause, you know, these things happen. Compassionate conservative indeed.
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