Why does Al Sharpton still have pull with America's political class?

Mar. 11: Reverend Al Sharpton speaks in New York.

Mar. 11: Reverend Al Sharpton speaks in New York.  (AFP)

As usual, Al Sharpton has an answer. How is it possible, I ask him, that he carries so much tainted baggage from the past, yet still enjoys enormous pull with the political class?

“It’s because I have access to some of the voters they’re trying to reach,” he tells me matter-of-factly. “Union leaders, faith leaders, civil-rights leaders — that’s who they’re trying to reach through me.”


Nobody’s ever called politics a moral business, but a respect for appearances is generally required. That’s why pols run from controversial people and return contributions the minute a donor gets in a jam. They fear guilt by association.

Yet few, if any, shun Sharpton, whose notoriety hasn’t kept him from the power trough.

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Presidents, senators, governors, mayors — they all come to kiss the ring. So I press him on the baggage: The disgraceful Tawana Brawley episode, that stint as an FBI informer now being so colorfully examined — why isn’t he politically toxic?

Look, he says, “a poll showed that one out of four blacks say I speak for them. I know that doesn’t fit the myth in the New York tabloids, but the media are deluding themselves.”

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Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.