Sharpton’s Dismal Showing
FredÃ‚ Kaplan thinks Al Sharpton’s political career may be over:
In his home state yesterday, Sharpton won a mere 8 percent of the Democratic voteÃ¢€”only 3 percentage points more than Dennis Kucinich. Sharpton’s a smart guy, too smart to have thought he might actually win the 2004 presidential election. But he did think he’d win a lot of delegates, expand his constituency, control a few planks in the party’s platform, and earn a prime-time speaking slot at the convention.
The way things turned out, he’ll be lucky to get a ticket to the convention floor. Not only that, Sharpton has squandered his reputation in New York. Thanks to his sorry showing, his standing as sole spokesman for an entire community, his ability to mobilize an enormous base with the snap of a finger, and his power to inspire fear among any who dared cross him have been substantially diminished.
In recent years, the image of the new, mature Sharpton had started to ameliorate his history as loud, libelous rabble-rouser. In 1999, after four cops fired 41 bullets at unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, Sharpton led the citywide protest rallies and kept them peaceful. Two years earlier, he’d run for mayor and won 32 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. He flew to Sudan and bought a slave’s freedom. He went to jail for protesting the U.S. Navy’s live bombing runs at a Puerto Rico test site, and emerged from his cell (and a hunger strike) a leaner and, so it seemed, more thoughtful man.
His ambition had always been to be the black leader of New York CityÃ¢€”modeling his style on Adam Clayton PowellÃ¢€”and, without question, he had accomplished that goal. With his presidential run, Sharpton sought to make himself the black leader of America, filling the throne that Jesse Jackson had left empty and even exceeding his hero-turned-rival’s showings in the 1984 and 1988 campaigns
Not only is Al SharptonÃ¢€”to what must be his grave disappointmentÃ¢€”no Jesse Jackson, he may no longer even be Al Sharpton.
And what a shame that would be.