Hoo-Boy, Here’s a Tough One

I suppose it’s time to start thinking about the 2004 presidential election, but I sincerely hope we can do better than Al Sharpton as the Democratic contender. Still, if it came down to a choice between Reverend Al and Little George, I’d have to hold my nose and vote for Reverend Al (I never thought I’d hear myself admit to that).

I heard a pretty decent interview snippet with Sharpton by NPR’s Bob Edwards Friday morning. Edwards wasn’t afraid to ask some pretty pointed questions — especially about the infamous Tawana Brawley case. For those who don’t remember, Tawana Brawley was a black, 15-year-old New York girl who claimed to have been raped by several white men (including police officers) back in 1987. As the case developed, her accusations expanded to include a local district attorney, Steven Pagones, whose career was effectively destroyed. Al Sharpton was one of Brawley’s most vocal supporters — a position that included leveling the same accusations against the men accused. In the end, the story turned out to be a complete fabrication, and while Sharpton ended up having to pay a defamation lawsuit judgment in 1997, he has never admitted any wrongdoing. Even in the interview, he played the whole thing off as simply a “jury that went against” Brawley — cleverly glossing over the fact that Brawley’s story changed over the course of the investigation, and all available evidence pointed to a hoax. Not only has he refused to apologize, he insists that he has nothing to apologize for. (The whole thing’s made for some interesting commentary, including one well-publicized assertion — which I’ll gleefully take out of context — that it doesn’t matter whether she made the whole thing up — Brawley was still a “victim,” since she was obviously expressing some horrific crime against her. Oooookay...)

You know, I take back my initial statement. If it comes down to a choice between those two, I think I’ll start bundling up for some cold Canadian winters...


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