Wednesday, February 11, 2004

There is one thing I intensely dislike about the Democratic primaries: Al Sharpton's presence. Sharpton made a career of fiery racist demagoguery -- from defending alleged rape victim Tawana Brawley, whose story was later proven to be a hoax --to inciting crowds to anti-Jewish violence.

Yet in the Democratic primary debates, Sharpton is treated as a legitimate candidate. Worse, he is usually the center of attention; he is loud, he is bombastic, and he is not given to the verbose, evasive style of the other Democratic candidates. He sets the tenor of the debates. A casual viewer tuning in would immediately notice Sharpton's extremism, not the careful moderation of (most) of the other Democratic candidates.

Peter Beinart writes on Sharpton in last week's issue of The New Republic:

Midway through last Thursday's Democratic debate in New Hampshire, co-moderator Peter Jennings decided to have a little fun with Al Sharpton. The reverend wants to be treated as a serious presidential candidate--even though he has never held elective office, has visited New Hampshire only four times (twice for debates), and has offered no real policy proposals. So Jennings decided to play along. If "you have the opportunity to nominate someone to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, what kind of person would you consider for the job?" the ABC News anchor asked. "You can name someone in particular, if you have someone in mind. And maybe just take a minute or so to give us a little bit about your views on monetary policy."

If anything, Jennings's curveball succeeded too well. Sharpton, confusing monetary policy and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), responded with a broadside against "the IMF and the policies that are emanating there." To make matters worse, Fox's Brit Hume followed up a few minutes later with a question about how President Sharpton would handle Iran. The reverend's answer this time was only slightly more coherent. "I would support the U.N. to try to bring about some kind of stabilized order there," explained Sharpton...

Is he confusing Iran with Iraq?


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