July 10, 2002


THE REV PLAYS IT SAFE: Al Sharpton's decision yesterday to back down from calling Sony boss Tommy Mottola a racist was likely done with his planned 2004 presidential run in mind- he doesn't want to upset the music industry, because it's likely many of them (especially those in the hip-hop sector) could be more likely to support his candidacy than that of whoever the other major Democratic candidate is. Indeed, I've always maintained that one reason Al Gore lost in 2000 is because he didn't have the "cool" factor going for him, and part of the problem was that he didn't have any rock stars on his side, like Clinton did in '92 (most of them either jumped on the Nader bandwagon, or sat it out altogether).
The larger problem with the Sharpton candidacy is that I believe the only reason Sharpton is running (other than, of course, his rampant egotism), is to bring the issue of slavery reparations to the forefront- preferably, for him, in a primetime convention speech. Reparations is the ultimate wedge issue- if the eventual nominee speaks against it, he'll alienate black voters and will thus be unelectable by the base; if he speaks against it, he'll alienate swing voters and be unelectable, period. Sharpton has the potential to do to the Democrats what Pat Buchanan did to the GOP in 1992 with his "culture war" speech. The Dems had better nip this one in the bud, or else it could be the shitstorm of all time.

Posted by Stephen Silver at July 10, 2002 12:43 AM
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