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Contempt a Year in the Making | Main | Berkeley Backpedals
February 14, 2008

Sharpton vs. Bond and a Correction

Yesterday I wrote about arguments being made by Clinton supporters that the Michigan and Florida Democratic delegates should be seated according to the results in those states' primaries. One of the arguments I described was that of NAACP National Chairman Julian Bond. I wrote:

Seat the delegates because to do otherwise is racially discriminatory. A variation on the above spin, this one points out that black and Hispanic people voted in the Michigan and Florida primaries. Argued most recently by the NAACP, the spin is that keeping these delegates from counting at the convention brings to mind the "sordid history of racially discriminatory primaries."

Unfortunately, it now appears that I was led astray by press accounts of Bond's letter, which incorrectly assumed that Bond was calling for the delegates to be seated according to the results of last month's flawed primaries. Al Sharpton appears to have fallen victim to the same reports. Closer examination of Bond's letter, a copy of which can be seen here (JPEG), and calls to NAACP headquarters reveal that such is not the case.

Bond's letter calls for "some solution" to the problem so that the delegates may be seated, but does not make the pro-Clinton "seat them as they are" argument. His interest seems to be in preventing disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan voters rather than supporting a candidate and he would be equally happy to see new primaries in each state. According to Kevin Myles, Wichita NAACP Chapter President, Bond is also concerned about trouble with the national party:

Actually about an hour ago, Julian issued a clarifying statement to all of the National Staff and Board members. It basically confirms all that I'd heard. It was not his point or intent to try and seat the delegations as prescribed by the previous primaries. But rather, he hoped to urge the DNC to resolve this issue now, recognizing that if the DNC does nothing and just waits for the convention, we could all be faced with some very complex problems and have no additional time to solve them.

I also asked Kevin what he thought about the latest round of press coverage pitting Sharpton against Bond. I thought there was a little too much glee about two black leaders having a public disagreement. Here is what he said:

The Sharpton vs Bond thing is a train wreck; but the media loves a good train wreck. I think the earlier reports of Bond's comments 'suggested' that Bond wanted to seat the primary delegates and Sharpton reacted to that without first picking up the phone and calling Julian. But now, even as additional context and information becomes available, I expect that the media will keep hyping the "fight".

Boy, was Kevin ever right. If this next link is to be believed, we have the origin of the Sharpton vs. Bond disagreement right here at the Roland Report:

While Sen. Barack Obama was racking up three huge wins last night in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, word broke that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond had sent a letter to the head of the Democratic National Committee asking that the delegates from Michigan and Florida be seated.

Talk about stepping into a messy situation!


When I got the tip regarding the letter, I called the Rev. Al Sharpton to hear if he had heard about the letter, and he was stunned when apprised of it.

He said that he was sending his own letter to Dean today, stating that if the DNC tries to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates, he would lead a protest in front of the group's national headquarters.

My NAACP sources also say that Bond was out of bounds for sending the letter - one called it "disgusting" - because he didn't apprise the board of it, nor the group's executive committee.

To the extent I assigned Bond to the pro-Clinton position, the whole thing was a mis-fire from the beginning. Let this stand as my correction to yesterday's post. My thanks to Kevin for calling it to my attention.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 04:45 AM

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