One last thing about Andrew Sullivan's Al Sharpton article: Sullivan says of Sharpton, "He has amazing oratorical skills among blacks." Just what the hell is that supposed to mean? That Sharpton appeals to the half-savage sable hordes with their mysterious jungle music and their unbridled dancing? I'm putting words in Sullivan's mouth, but I don't how how else to interpret a statement like that.
Whatever you think of him, Sharpton's a good speaker, period. He preaches when he makes a speech, and why not? He's been preaching since he was a kid. The techniques of black church oratory are pretty damn useful for getting a point across. Sharpton's not as good as Jesse Jackson in front a large crowd, but -- at least to my white, Northeastern ears -- he's a lot better than Jackson in, say, a small TV studio (Jackson in an intimate setting really sounds country). Sharpton can do irony and sarcasm. His one-liners can be quite barbed. He's no dummy, and you feel it when he talks. I wonder if Sullivan's ever heard the man speak at any greater length than an eight-second soundbite.