Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Right Reverend

Al Sharpton gave an incendiary speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention, talking for 20 minutes when he was only supposed to be on for six. Technically, it was a fine piece of oratory, reminding the audience and viewers at home (I caught it on CNN) that Sharpton has been preaching since he was a child. Politically, it's probably going to be a headache for John Kerry, even though it wasn't carried on the three broadcast networks. Sharpton was rabid in his attacks on Bush and the Republicans, and at one point said that if Bush had been appointing Supreme Court justices in 1954, Clarence Thomas never would have gone to law school--thus implying that Bush would have been a segregationist. (And taking a swipe at Thomas at the same time.) Not the kind of positive tone Kerry was hoping to set at this convention.

Even more odious was the speech, which was covered only on C-Span (yes, I'm that much of a political junkie) by our own Fast Eddie Rendell, in which the guv decried the nation's dependence on foreign oil and promised that Kerry would help wean us off it as president. It was a terrible speech, and I wonder why Rendell was giving it. Plus, I'm always irked when people talk about reducing our dependence on foreign oil by mentioning alternative fuels such as natural gas. That's one solution, but a better plan is to use less energy, by improving public transportation and creating high-density, walkable communities.



Blogger suzie said...

sigh. i watched c-span all night too. you have to admit sharpton knows how to give a speech, doesn't he?

11:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is shocking to me that any party would treat Rev. Al with anything but contempt. Does anyone remember Steven Pagones? He endured a decade of death threats because of he was suing Sharpton for defamation over Tawana Brawley. Sharpton even dared him to sue. Pagones won a $68K judgement. A near impossible feat for a public figure. Does anyone remember Freddy’s Fashion Mart? Three months of protests with escalating rhetoric ending with a mad gunman, fire, and eight dead. Could you imagine anyone like this be allowed to address the RNC? Media outrage?

And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.
--Richard III-AtPC

5:17 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

You and I don't agree on everything but we agree on this. The Tawana Brawley case is one the most shameful episodes in modern American history. It damaged not only the reputation of an innocent man but also cast aspersions on all legitimate claims of police brutality. (I confess I'm not familiar with the other episode to which you refer.) Sharpton is a racial charlatan--though I will say that in rhetoric, Sharpton's speech this year wasn't a far cry from Pat Buchanan's 1992 GOP convention speech.

7:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's OK, we do not have to agree to have a conversion.

Since you are a bit of a movie geek, Freddy's happened years after Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing", but strangely foreshadowed it.

Here is some background on Sharpton from the Boston alternative paper, The Phoenix. Hardly a right wing rag. I had forgotten about Crown Heights in '91. The NYT archive only goes back to '96. Freddy's was in '95.

Hmm, Buchanan got 3M votes in 1992, so Bush could hardly ignore him. Sharpton got less votes than Kucinich, barely 370K votes, 2.4%.

Reviewing the Buchanan speech, I can not seem to find the line that got all the press. I remember that the initial media response to Buchanan's speech was very positive. It was later that it became an issue. Any chance of the happening with Sharpton?

The only talking head that commented on Sharpton was Chris Matthews. It would be interesting to see Kerry, and Sharpton on stage with a bunch of NYC first responders. Now that would be some exciting TV.

Buchanan is has pretty much dropped off the radar now as he has gotten out furthing into the looney protectionist weeds with the Perot-tistas, and the Reform party, which endorsed Nader this year. Nader-Buchanan. Ha.

8:59 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Actually, I said to my wife as we watched Sharpton hurl his invective that he had nothing to bring to the table, so I couldn't understand why he was being given a speaking slot.

I do think that if the three broadcast networks, despite their waning influence, had been broadcasting from the convention at the time Sharpton spoke, it would have been harder for the mainstream to ignore the speech. I will say that, given Buchanan's success in the primaries, there was a bigger question as to whether he represented the views of a significant number of Republicans and potential Bush voters. Despite the fact that he was allowed to speak at the convention, I don't think there's reason to believe that Sharpton represents a significant portion of the Democratic Party--even among African Americans. Mark Bowden had a pretty good profile of Sharpton in the most recent Atlantic that basically said Sharpton is trying to fight battles that were won years ago. (Bowden noted that Jesse Jackson Jr. endorsed Howard Dean in the primaries. I think it was Dean--in any case, it wasn't Sharpton.)

10:10 AM

Blogger fester said...

I want to talk about your second paragraph. I agree completely with you that the long term trend to less dependence on foreign oil is to change the physical infrastructure of our nation to encourage smart urban growth. That hopefully will be a good chunk of my career.

I also want to register my disgust at the trope that reducing demand for oil will lead to more American oil being consumed as a proportion of the total consumption bundle. American oil is damm expensive oil to extract. West Texas crude costs at least $8.00 per barrel to extract. Saudi sweet light crude costs under $2.00 to extract. Lower demand for oil in the US (assuming no other changes in global demand) will lead to a higher percentage of foreign imports because global prices will decrease as global demand falls. This makes US oil production way less profitable, so it shuts down first.

10:49 AM


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