The Sharpton Primary Begins, Too

by TNR Staff | January 28, 2007

1988 was not a good time at the Harvard Law School. Or, at least, it was not a congenial time for either professors or students. There were the "crits" (the critical legal theorists) and the more conventional legal types, and they were at each other over appointments, curriculum, admissions and the general atmosphere of the place. Race was a key issue but not the only one. Anyway, into this hothouse of learning and ideology came Barack Obama. Jodi Kantor has written an article in Sunday's Times narrating how it was that "Harvard was the place where he first became a political sensation." I didn't know him then--I haven't met him yet--but I'd sure heard of him. And no one had anything bad to say of him. That was very unusual at Harvard, and especially at the HLS. It actually meant something. Kantor reports that, while he was editor of the Harvard Law Review, he "did a mischievous interpretation of Rev. Jesse Jackson when he came to speak on campus." That also took some courage because at the time almost no one said a harsh word about Jesse, even those who knew he deserved lots of criticism, lots. On Friday, however, an article by Ian Bishop in the New York Post, reported that "Big 2 Duel for Rev. Al Blessing." That's Reverend Al Sharpton, and the "big 2" are Obama and Hillary Clinton. The usual bullshit from her: "I'm delighted to have Reverend Sharpton here today to talk about issues important to our country, to his commitment to the 21st century civil rights agenda--it is one that I share." Sharpton has been a malignant force in American life, malignant and incendiary. Surely, Hillary grasps that, what with Tawana Brawley, the Crown Heights riots, the Freddy's Fashion Mart fire in which seven employees were killed, and the Korean grocery in Brooklyn at which the police luckily found 19 gallons of gasoline before they were lit. These are big events in Sharpton's life, the biggest actually, the most defining. Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts are the liberators of black politics, liberators from the hustlers and cons like Jackson and Sharpton. Obama should no more meet with Sharpton than George Bush would meet with David Duke. By the way, Sharpton also visited with Thursday with Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. It wouldn't take much to isolate Sharpton. But as long as respectable people meet with him and talk with him about "his commitment to the 21st century civil rights agenda" he will seem, well, yes, respectable, too. And he'll be dangerous, as well.

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