The American media is enthralled with Obama, treating him like a movie star and recording his every move with fascination and adoration. But for the long term “black leaders” that have made careers out of negotiating the “black position” with the Democratic Party, Obama is not someone they want in the Oval Office. Who will listen to Jesse or Al or even Calypso Louie if there is an articulate Democratic black man in the White House, not to even bring up Condi.
So look forward to the knives to be sharpened as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the rest of the usual suspects start to carve up Obama’s reputation to protect their gravy train. Plus, think of all the concessions from Hillary et al. they can get if they bring down her biggest competitor.
Yet Obama’s charm and eloquence have not wooed the old guard.
“They are basically jealous,” said a Democratic strategist who has not yet decided which candidate he intends to support. “They’ve been toiling in the trenches for decades, and along comes this son of a Kenyan farmer and suddenly he’s measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.”
Sharpton, 52, is widely considered to have no better chance of winning the Democratic nomination than in 2004, when he never amassed more than a few percentage points in the polls but still made a national impact with his barnstorming performances in the televised primary debates.
When asked about Obama’s likely candidacy, the preacher, renowned for outrageous self-publicising antics, shrugged: “Right now we’re hearing a lot of media razzle-dazzle. I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat, or if there’s some real meat there.”
Belafonte, who returns to British cinema screens shortly with a small role in Bobby, the new Emilio Estevez film about the assassination of Robert F Kennedy, also cast doubt on Obama’s credentials as a legitimate candidate.
“He’s a young man in many ways to be admired,” Belafonte said. “Obviously very bright, speaks very well, cuts a handsome figure. But all of that is just the king’s clothes. Who’s the king?” There were contrasting views on the likely impact on Obama’s campaign of black competition or criticism. One analyst argued that a Sharpton candidacy would “put Obama on the spot” by forcing him to address awkward civil rights issues such as police brutality and racial profiling that he tends to steer clear of. One Democratic blogger argued that Sharpton was “just what the doctor ordered to keep Obama on the straight and narrow”. via Times Online.