Friday, January 26, 2007
The Audacity Of Dopes
Did anyone else find it surreal that as of the year 2007, the role of arbiter for the Civil Rights agenda goes to... Al Sharpton? The NY Times says here that Reverend Al is sizing up the Democratic field's commitment to the black community's interests, starting with Barack Obama, to decide whether his candidacy will be necessary in 2008.
Now don't get me wrong. I like Al Sharpton. Back at the height of his divisive incarnation as Tawana Brawley's consigliari, I almost got fired for heatedly defending him to my boss. My argument at the time? He's a pit bull for his people, and if I were a black man, victimized on account of my race and belonging to the social class whose grievances tend to be brushed aside, there's not a whole lot of people I'd think of calling ahead of Al Sharpton.
I also admire the way he came in from the cold and went respectable, successfully trading in his street thuggishness without losing a shred of his street credibility. How? By keeping it real, whether barking through a megaphone at a protest march, or talking into a microphone at a presidential debate. I'll actually miss his wit and candor if he ends up sitting the campaign out.
But from there to being the guarantor of the black community on the national scene seems like a stretch. After all, most people who are familiar with Sharpton's m.o. know that while he undoubtedly has the black community's interests (somewhere) at heart, first and foremost, Rev. Al looks out for Rev. Al.
Of course, the meetings in Washington yesterday had little to do with civil rights, and everything to do with delivering votes in New York. And from the looks of things, Obama would do well to have a little chat with Jesse Jackson about how Sharpton deals with rival black leaders. My hope? That Sharpton ends up running, while simultaneously broadcasting his campaign as a reality television program. Can't you just see it? The Rev. Al and Paris Hilton discussing tax policy over cocktails at the Four Seasons? On second thought, maybe not.