“Don’t let the news media play you for a fool.”
Al Sharpton: Obama’s Go-To Black Leader
Apr 12, 2011 6:37 PM EDT
The presidents extraordinary embrace of Al Sharpton last week has as much to do with his rejection of Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley as it does with the once-embattled reverend.
Obama stayed so far away from Sharpton during the 2008 campaign that Sharpton, with Obamas blessing, never even endorsed him. Yet not only did Obama just become the first president ever to appear at the annual conference of Sharptons National Action Network, ten top Obama aides, including six cabinet members, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, spoke at various sessions of the four-day event. It was a Yes Al Can celebration.
This enemy-of-my-enemy alliance moved to the front burner more than a year ago, when Sharpton declared, in an interview with the New York Times, that Obama was smart not to ballyhoo a black agenda. Smiley fired back, saying it was difficult for Sharpton to be the water carrier for the White House and, at the same time, trying to be the titular head, as it were, for Black America. He argued that Sharpton was inside the White House trying to help the president push his agenda out rather than pressuring Obama to adopt an agenda for blacks disproportionately hurt by the great recession.