- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Those Palm Beach County Democrats really know how to throw a party. To mark the anniversary of Election Day, 2000, they are putting together a hoop-de-do of a fund-raiser to include every Florida Democrat considering a challenge to Gov. Jeb Bush, and for added inspiration they have even invited Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. Senate schedule permitting, Mr. Lieberman has agreed to attend, while Mr. Gore has "penciled in" the day, although not, we trust, on a butterfly ballot.

It's beginning to look like a busy fall for Mr. Gore. Having lain low for the past eight months, popping up only occasionally to grow a beard or teach journalism off the record, Mr. Gore is now ready to jack up the old political profile. For starters, he travels to Iowa next month to be the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, a traditional kick-off event for Democratic presidential hopefuls.

But if Mr. Gore is still brimming with presidential hope, his Democratic peers are less than convinced to say the least. The least, however, is not what they're saying. Just this past weekend, Democratic smashmouth Paul Begala had nothing but unkind words for Mr. Gore in a interview with Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press." There, he dismissed yesterday's party-standard-bearer as a "fairly lackluster candidate" who "ran a pretty poor campaign." House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt may have been more circumspect, but his refusal, as Mr. Russert repeatedly pressed him, to offer even the most innocuous encouragement to the former vice president was somehow just as derogatory and graceless. How the Jefferson-Jackson-Day crowd receives him next month will be most instructive.

By the way, the "Jackson" in Jefferson-Jackson Day is for Andrew, not Jesse. We offer that bit of historical trivia lest there be any confusion at the newest presidential exploratory committee in the Democratic Party, the one launched just this week for the Rev. Al Sharpton. Mr. Sharpton, having emerged 31 pounds slimmer after 90 days at a federal spa sorry, prison for trespassing at the naval installation at Vieques, Puerto Rico, is now making his national political ambitions official.

Apparently, the renowned racialist feels that this latest incarceration of his was the ultimate resume enhancer. In any event, it sure was stimulating. Interviewed on Tony Snow's "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Sharpton revealed that his Vieques experience had partly inspired what may some day who knows? be known as the Sharpton Doctrine. It begins like this: There is, as Mr. Sharpton has concluded, "no real threat to American security" anywhere in the world. Therefore, he questions the "obsession" in Washington with "gearing up … towards some real fantasy that is looming."

The only "real fantasy that is looming" is Mr. Sharpton's delusion of presidential grandeur. As Mr. Sharpton himself has made clear, his real ambition is to replace the discredited Mr. Jackson as the putative leader of black America and, as the New York Post recently noted, "by extension, the Left."

No comment on that one yet from Messrs. Begala and Gephardt.

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