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Al Sharpton On Line One

Say what you will about Al Sharpton--and this magazine certainly has over the years--but the man possesses a keen understanding of what makes him relevant. To wit, see his response to a fairly damning secret FBI tape in which he appears to pledge to help a Philadelphia man with a multi-million dollar business in exchange for a $50,000 campaign contribution: Sharpton doesn't so much proclaim his innocence as his influence. From today's NYT:

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, had planned to meet with Mr. Sharpton in South Carolina, where Mr. Sharpton, whose endorsement has been pursued by both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, won 10 percent of the presidential primary vote in 2004.

The meeting was canceled because of scheduling problems for Mr. Sharpton, who said he talked with Mr. Clinton by phone instead Monday night. The conversation centered on civil rights, he said.

The talk followed by just days The Philadelphia Inquirer’s publishing an account of a conversation, secretly taped by the F.B.I., in which Mr. Sharpton appeared to promise a Philadelphia fund-raiser some help on a business deal in return for a five-figure contribution to the 2004 Sharpton campaign.

Mr. Sharpton said in an interview Monday that there had been no quid pro quo involved, and pointed to his talk with Mr. Clinton as a sign of his innocence.

“I don’t think any of the Democratic candidates are moving away from me,” he said. “This meeting with Clinton is indicative of that.”

Sadly, Sharpton's right.

--Jason Zengerle