It was hardly shocking that Al Sharpton was permitted to speak at the Democratic Convention. But a scandal needn't be a surprise to still be a scandal. What is stunning, however, is how his speech has been received. Already, Business Week has hailed him as "the toast of the Democratic Establishment" and the usual nattering-chattering shows are treating him like an elder statesmen of the party. One would call it a rehabilitation, except for the fact he was never habilitated in the first place.
Sharpton's re-creation is all the more miraculous - and disgusting - because it came without an apology for the Tawana Brawley affair. Nor any serious penance for the murderous "protests" he helped inspire that resulted in four people shot and eight burned to death - all because they represented what Sharpton called "white interlopers" in Harlem (the majority of victims were actually neither white nor black).
Democrats contend this is all "ancient history" - even as the Democrats tout their nominee's war record from three decades ago. And complain though we might, Sharpton has indeed become one of the most important voices in black America. But at the end of the day his voice hasn't changed much.
Sharpton allegedly tore up his original, Kerry-approved speech and rewrote it in response to President Bush's recent address to the Urban League. In those remarks, Bush had rhetorically asked whether blacks should reconsider their lopsided support for the Democratic Party. After all, the Bush White has certainly done more for black America than the press or the official "leadership" of black America are willing to acknowledge. His faith-based initiative, his massively increased spending on education and labor, his appointment of the highest-ranking African-American cabinet officials ever - the NAACP & Co. would have wildly applauded these measures had they been implemented by a Democrat.
So Bush asked a few questions: "Does the Democrat Party take African-American voters for granted?" "Is it a good thing for the African-American community to be represented mainly by one political party? . How is it possible to gain political leverage if the party is never forced to compete?" And: "Have the traditional solutions of the Democrat Party truly served the African-American community?"