Bush: Breaking Racial Barriers

12/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Phil Bronstein Executive Vice President and Editor-at-Large, San Francisco Chronicle

Seeing Barack Obama and George W. Bush together Monday, acting all cordial, made me realize it was probably time to put down those commemorative post-election Chronicles for a minute, hit the pause button on our tear into the future and give the outgoing President the credit he deserves for helping elect the incoming President.

I don't mean because Mr. Bush hit an all-time high disapproval rating, according to the polls in the liberal media. Yes, his unpopularity and policies helped the Democrats a lot.

But I'm talking about the impact on citizen state of mind when Mr. Bush appointed not one but two African-American Secretaries of State and the first African-American as Secretary of Education like it wasn't any big deal. He also named the first Mexican-American as Attorney General.

It doesn't matter what you thought of Ms. Rice or Mr. Powell or the others as public servants. (The Chronicle had a huge beef with Alberto Gonzalez over the BALCO case.) Here was a very conservative good old Texas fundamentalist Republican breaking a racial barrier without even blinking, like it was the most natural thing to do and not some monumental moment in our cultural or political history.

If you don't think that made the election of the first African-American president go down a little easier for some voters, think about it just a little more. I'll wait.