I see another angle to this which may be what the NAACP is focusing on. The president's job is the external one as compared to the chairman's role - which Julian Bond has. What is the NAACP's greatest public challenge: how to be relevant and current in 2005 versus the extraordinary inertia that keeps the organization on the path the was plowed in the 50s/60s. Here's Russell with tremendous personal resources, even greater contacts, and most important, with a tangible connection to the youth of our community.
What's the downside of putting Russell in this job? The NAACP is already flirting with extinction. Putting another leader who came up through the CRM just further digs the organizations grave. Why not shake things up? Why not put in someone who could potentially translate the traditional goals of the organization into a language that our youth in 2005 can "get with"? As I understand it, Russell was the primary force that got the racist Rockefeller drug laws overturned which disproportionately targeted black offenders in the state of New York. I have no reason to question his commitment to our people. I have every reason to believe that he would inject a level of energy and creativity that just might make an impact.
What does the NAACP have to lose?