An amazing thing has happened in New York, and in Democratic politics: Al Sharpton has become King. He is Mr. Big, The Man to See, the straw that stirs the drink. Nothing has made that clearer than the prelude to the New York primary, and the budding New York Senate race. They come in a steady parade to him, even if they show flutters of reluctance: Bill Bradley, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton. Everyone refers to this as “kissing his ring”; at times, Democrats seem willing to kiss even more. Not long ago, he was a demagogue, a race-baiter, a menace — and acknowledged as such, by all but a fringe. Day and night, he worked to make an always difficult city — New York — even more difficult, more tense. Now, however, he practically rules. He is a kind of Establishment. His record — as galling as any in our politics — is overlooked, excused, or shrugged off. It is to him that every (Democratic) knee must bow.
And another amazing thing: no penalty. Democratic bigs seem to pay no penalty whatever for their embrace of Sharpton. George W. Bush is worse off for Bob Jones University.
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