Cal Thomas | Syndicated columnist | Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Sharpton could be the next Willie Horton, symbolizing what many people hate about liberals. From the phony Tawana Brawley rape case in the late '80s, to his constant race baiting, Sharpton makes an inviting political target.
Democrats cannot afford to criticize him because they need the black vote. Consider how Sen. Joe Lieberman had to tip-toe around Louis Farrakhan during the presidential campaign. Farrakhan had too many black supporters and Lieberman could not afford to offend them.
If Sharpton runs -- and he surely will because, like his mentor, Jesse Jackson, he has to keep in front of the cameras -- he is bound to take black votes from the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. And that nominee won't be Al Sharpton. If Sharpton wins a sizeable number of black votes, he will use them as a bargaining chip to get what he wants in the party platform and even win promises for himself. That's what Jesse Jackson did for years with the Democratic Party and Sharpton is surely following in his footsteps.
This is going to be fun, watching Democrats try not to offend Sharpton, while Sharpton offends just about everyone else with his outrageous rhetoric. Republicans could not come up with a better strategy if they had to invent Al Sharpton, the reverend without a church.