A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
A wise man once said: Be careful what you wish for. Rev. Al Sharpton has long craved entrance to the citadels of power, and may now have been granted his wish in return for services rendered to the Obama administration. But proximity to Power also brings intense media scrutiny. Can a shady-dealing preacher take the heat?
Al Sharpton: Obama's Junkyard Dog
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Now that Sharpton has truly hit the big time, the media spotlights will surely burn him to a crisp."
Rev. Al Sharpton and President Barack Obama have a thing going on - and I predict it will turn out badly for both of them.
Sharpton has assumed the role of Obama's political muscle among what passes for Black leadership. His job is to bully into submission those Blacks that dare to even suggest that African Americans need to agitate for their own interests, to speak Truth to Power, even when that Power is represented by a Black man in the White House. In his capacity as the president's junkyard dog, Sharpton verbally savages even the mildest critics of an administration that has greatly expanded U.S. wars while overseeing the biggest transfer in history of public wealth to private pockets. Sharpton bit into Tavis Smiley when the talk-show entrepreneur proposed that Black America formulate its own political agenda, separate from Obama's policies, which have seen Black unemployment, evictions and foreclosures reach Depression-era levels. Sharpton snarled that folks like Smiley were trying to hold Obama to a "double-standard," demanding more from a Black president than they would from a white Democrat - which is absolute nonsense, since so-called Black leadership has made virtually no demands on Obama since he announced his candidacy three years ago.
Sharpton joined in a salt-and-pepper White House-sponsored tour with right wing rabble rouser and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Gingrich and Sharpton teamed up to shill for Obama's corporate-inspired attempt to massively transform public schools into non-union, charter schools.
"Sharpton only seeks the shadows when he's getting paid for services rendered."
Like Shakespeare's Othello, Sharpton has "done the state some service," and Obama knows it. The administration has thrown its Black junkyard dog the red meat he craves: public recognition that Sharpton is a player in the power game - "Obama's New Partner," as the Wall Street Journal put it. The Washington Post has made it all but official, that Sharpton and Obama are a political couple. One right-wing Washington outfit called Sharpton a "shadow member of the Obama cabinet," which is, in one sense, quit unfair, since every day is show time and bright lights for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who only seeks the shadows when he's getting paid for services rendered.
Which brings us to the very serious down-side to Sharpton's emergence as a the newly-crowned principal Black defender of White House Power. Rev. Sharpton, who has often stated that his two main mentors in life were soul singer James Brown and boxing Mafioso Don King, has up to now enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the national corporate media. To put it bluntly, they love him, and have needed him, as their flashy caricature of a Black leader. Sharpton's sleazy dealings are legendary in Black activist circles, but he has only once been deeply scrutinized by the media. That was in 2004, when the New York Village Voice revealed that Sharpton's presidential campaign was largely financed by Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone. Now that Sharpton has truly hit the big time, the media spotlights will surely burn him to a crisp. Al Sharpton's financial dealings cannot stand serious scrutiny. His service to Power is going to cost him dearly - and President Obama will find himself covered with the slime, as well. Mark my words.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].