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

Al Sharpton in NYC

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.”

Al Sharpton is a human Rorschach test — we all see something different. But he’s right about the politicians. They seek his stamp of approval because they can count.

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.

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.”

To continue reading Michael Goodwin's New York Post column, click here.

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