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Thursday, July 29, 2004

After my 'gavel-to-gavel' coverage on Tuesday night (see previous entry), I decided to pretty much skip night three of the DNC; after all, the networks devoted an entire hour to last night's festivities (way to go guys!), so I'm sure everyone got a complete picture of the Democratic party and what it stands for. Harrumph.

As, ahem, extensive as the network coverage was, it still managed to miss last night's apparent highlight: the Sharpton sermon, er, speech. Yep, before Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, was seen speaking to the nation about hope and flinging his children all over the stage for the cameras, the rotund reverend had his moment under the lights. As most of you have heard by now, the Kerry campaign urged all speakers and delegates prior to the convention to tone down the Bush-bashing rhetoric and, for the most part, participants have toed the line and done just that. But not Rev. Al, no sir.

Almost immediately, Sharpton strayed from the script that had been vetted by the Kerry camp, responding to President Bush's speech to the Urban League in Detroit last week. Sharpton told the Daily News that he veered off the desired higher ground "because [Bush] directly challenged us. It would have been a betrayal not to answer his questions." In Bush's appearance at the Urban League last week, a transparent attempt to salvage his reputation amongst the African American community after shunning the NAACP the week before, the President questioned whether "the traditional solutions of the Democratic party truly served the African American community?" Sharpton responded last night with this:
"Mr. President ... we didn't come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our votes that got our votes. We got the Civil Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the Voting Rights Act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under Democrats. Mr. President, the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age. Our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs, soaked in the blood of [civil rights activists] Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, soaked in the blood of four little girls in Birmingham. This vote is sacred to us. This vote can't be bargained away. This vote can't be given away. In all due respect, Mr. President, read my lips: Our vote is not for sale." 

You really had to see it to experience it fully, it was pretty powerful. Of course, the Republicans will use Sharpton's rousing, boisterous, sermon-like performance to paint the Democratic party as full of a bunch of loonies. As they so often do, the Republicans will mistake genuine passion for insanity. But so be it, Sharpton's speech - no matter what you think of the man - was entertaining, inspiring and well-received and I, for one, I'm glad he strayed from the script. I may even watch his TV show now.

Of course, a Days entry wouldn't be a Days entry without some snide humor, so I'll post a little bit more from Bush's Urban League appearance: 

"Do you remember a guy named Charlie Gaines? Somebody gave me a quote he said, which I think kind of describes the environment we're in today. I think he's a friend of Jesse's. He said, 'Blacks are gagging on the donkey but not yet ready to swallow the elephant.'”

Wonkette already beat me to this of course, but does the sexual subtext of that metaphor make anyone else a little uncomfortable? Sharpton even took it one step further in his speech last night when he said, "we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us." Since when did bestiality become a political issue?

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