On his "PoliticsNation" show last night, the Rev. Al Sharpton was indignant -- then again, when is he not? -- that Mitt Romney did not immediately reject a statement by a woman at a rally in Ohio that President Obama should be "tried for treason."
Romney answered the woman's question about restoring balance between the three branches of government but ignored her remark about Obama as treasonous. Approached by a reporter after the rally and asked if he agreed with the woman, Romney said "I obviously don't agree he should be tried." (video and audio clips after page break)
This fell wantonly short as far as Sharpton was concerned. "Mr. Romney, you want to lead this party," Sharpton said. "You want to lead this country. And yet you think this is leadership?" This was the same "lack of leadership" Romney showed by not condeming Newt Gingrich's pithy description of Obama as the "food stamp president," Sharpton said.
"There was silence from you on that one," Sharpton inveighed. "But make no mistake, folks, this party has been going right off the cliff for some time now." As evidence of this, Sharpton showed a clip of Obama's health care speech before Congress in September 2009, when he was interrupted by GOP Rep. Joe Wilson yelling, "You lie!"
"This is about more than what happened today," Sharpton said. "It's about a party and now a candidate that refused to denounce talk like this. Willard, winning the election like this is not winning at all."
Oh my -- that unseemly outburst from Joe Wilson and nearly three years later the presumptive GOP nominee ignoring a harshly worded comment on the campaign trail. Could the trend line here be more ominous? Kudos for the stinging prep work on this by Sharpton's team at MCNBC, clearly no slackers there.
Sharpton's guests for the segment (seen in its entirety here), former RNC chairman Michael Steele and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, were asked their thoughts on the matter.
"I think in the moment of hearing that (Romney) probably discounted that as hyperbole and didn't give it any credence," Steele said in a rare moment of lucidity on MSNBC. "So he addressed the specific question and left that hanging out there. And you know, Reverend, as you know when you were a candidate, you don't answer everything that's put in front of you, nor do you address it. You just kinda let the stuff that stands out there that's obviously, you know, not relevant to the debate alone and you move to the core question, which he said he did."
Steele's defense of Romney allowed Sharpton to do what he enjoys most, which is wax piously about What Should Have Been Done. "I don't know that," he told Steele, "because I've learned by being around certain rooms and allowing things to go unchallenged that I should have challenged them. ... So I've learned that you do, silence is consent."
Perhaps one of those "certain rooms" includes the set of Sharpton's radio show. Seeing how he was willing to cite Joe Wilson's heckling of Obama in 2009 to bolster his argument, here is Sharpton's response to a radio show caller three months earlier suggesting one of the most ludicrous conspiracy theories in decades (audio) --
CALLER: He (Michael Jackson) is truly the soundtrack of my life. I also have a theory about Sarah Palin as well and I'm going to put it out there on the radio, hopefully someone can investigate. But I think maybe she did something to Michael Jackson. Maybe there's a scandal there. Maybe she's stepping down because something's about to come out. I don't know, but I'm gonna just put it out there on your show so we'll see.
SHARPTON: All right, thank you for your call, Ashley. That's interesting. I'll put it out, we'll see. I don't know.
Imagine how much more indignation Sharpton could exude had Romney responded to the remark about Obama as traitor by saying, "that's interesting" and "I'll put it out, we'll see."