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Politics Mondays: E-Letter To Terry M. Neal And The Washington Post Re: "A Conspiracy Theory for Everything"

As you may already know, I very much enjoy your informative articles and notes on politics and have been reading them for years. But I have to say your piece in today's Washington Post, "A Conspiracy Theory for Everything" is so peculiar that I have to wonder about the genesis of the idea for your On Politics selection. And yes, you can count me among the conspiracy-clique even on that front, because I have serious doubts as to whether or not the article began, in concept, with you or perhaps somewhere else. As writers, we get ideas for articles from a variety of sources, right?

In any event, perception is almost everything so it is my Brotherly and professional responsibility to pull your coat to the fact that your space in today's Washington Post reads less like your customary stellar reporting and more like someone in the Democratic Party's personal bulletin board.

"Everybody" knows that former United States Senator, Carol Moseley-Braun, is running against Rev. Al Sharpton and not for the Democratic Party nomination for President Of The United States (POTUS). By the same token "everybody" knows that Rev. Al Sharpton is running for the office of "White America's Black Leader" (vacated by Rev. Jesse Jackson) and not to become one of the two major political party nominees for POTUS. Rev. Sharpton, already, is close to assuming that role. If all goes according to plan it will be a fait accompli by the 2004 presidential election.

If it was not written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, your writing could easily be viewed as condescending, by its transparent (if only as an inference) logic, utilized to directly and indirectly defend the Moseley-Braun-For-President effort. Blacks (and others), you suppose, are falling for a conspiracy theory "that some prominent Democrats urged Moseley-Braun to join the race, figuring that her background as a senator, an ambassador to New Zealand and a law professor at DePaul University would make her a more attractive black contender than Sharpton, who continues to suffer the taint of the Tawana Brawley affair and other controversies."

Except for the possible interpretation from what you wrote that these "prominent Democrats" are sincerely looking for a mythical best possible Black candidate, what you cleverly dismiss, or even mock, is what is actually happening. Terry, ask around Chicago and Washington D.C.. You have access to as good a group of sources as any. Your "conspiracy theory" is almost exactly what is happening and it is hard to believe that you don't know that. In fact, you quote one of the most "prominent Democrats" responsible for the nation-wide effort to recruit Black candidates in an effort to slow Rev. Sharpton's insurgent campaign, strategist Donna Brazile.

And Ms. Brazile isn't making her effort any secret. Professional Black Democrats are abuzz about her laser-like focus on Rev. Sharpton's campaign. And "everybody" just saw her on C-SPAN late last year openly passing up an opportunity, after receiving a direct question, to refute the rumour that her "favorite-son" idea of having Black candidates run in Democratic Party state primaries was anything other than a thinly-veiled effort to erect an obstacle course for the potential Sharpton candidacy. Even White conservative columnist George Will wrote about this last year.

Could it be that you are the only major Black political observer that doesn't know what Ms. Brazile is doing? Again, hard to believe, based upon your demonstrated ability to be in-the-know and ask hard questions. But as I finish my morning coffee here, I still can't believe that you permitted Donna Brazile's defense of the Moseley-Braun candidacy to go unchallenged. You allow in your column, "Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, said Moseley-Braun would generate interest in the Democratic nomination among some women who otherwise might not vote. She said it was ridiculous for anyone to suggest the Democratic Party should have only one black candidate, given African Americans' loyalty to the party."

It is hard for me to keep from laughing, honestly. I can personally bear witness to the fact that Our Sister, Donna Brazile, is brilliant, beautiful and very persuasive, but her argument - that you reference from an interview last week - that criticism of the Moseley-Braun-For-President initiative equates to a "one-Black-per-presidential-campaign" quota is not to be taken seriously; and isn't being taken seriously by anyone, perhaps, with the exception of you. People are clearly differentiating between a legitimate effort to develop a new cadre of Black presidential candidates and a shrewd political strategy that uses Black candidates to erode Black support for Rev. Sharpton, as early in the campaign season as possible.

If you really accept, unchallenged, the cover story that dismisses reality as "conspiracy theory"; and which takes the view that those describing former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun's candidacy as a political trojan horse are engaging in a philosophical exercise with no basis in fact, then I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the February edition of the Black Electorate Newsletter Insider where we describe how Ms. Brazile's efforts against Rev. Sharpton are being perceived by Beltway Blacks who are in the know. I would be happy to refer you to some sources that will give you some background to balance your selection of quotes used for "A Conspiracy Theory for Everything".

But, if you really don't accept the aforementioned cover story, aren't enabling the advance of a red herring, and wrote what you did for some other reason, then just e-mail me on the down-low (wink, wink).

When it comes to how Blacks are used and manipulated by the Democratic Party you should know that there is no real alternative but to believe in "conspiracy theories".

Only the "uninitiated" could believe that Senator Carol Moseley-Braun's sudden run for president is the genuine byproduct of a search for the best qualified Black candidate, or an effort to maximize Black or female voter turnout.


Cedric Muhammad

Cedric Muhammad

Monday, February 17, 2003

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