John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Payback

Posted on August 2, 2010

Charlie Rangel



Four years ago, Charlie Rangel endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, and he stuck with that endorsement until the last possible moment, until it became clear to just about everybody that Barack Obama, and not Hillary Clinton, was going to be the Democratic nominee for President.

Rangel endorsed Clinton for a variety of reasons.  Clinton was his home state Senator.  Rangel didn’t think Obama was going to win.  Rangel was a good friend of Clinton, urging her to run for Senator in the first place.

You could also surmise that the old bull Rangel didn’t think Obama was experienced enough to be President.  You could also surmise that Rangel, as the House Ways and Means Chairman, was the most powerful black leader in the country, and frankly, he didn’t want his power challenged by a young upstart.

Like many other African-American leaders from the older generation, Rangel has had a frosty relationship with Mr. Obama.   Jesse Jackson has been caught on tape several times saying derogatory things about the President.  Bobby Rush, who was challenged in a Congressional primary by Obama, was the first to challenge his blackness.

The fact of the matter is that there is a generational divide between the President and his older colleagues.  Obama won because he was able to get the votes of many white people, while Rangel and others make their appeals solely to African-Americans.

Rangel is somewhat inconvenient to Mr. Obama, especially as the mid-term elections draw to a close, and the focus turns on the Presidential election.  He is damaged goods ethically.  He is partisan.  And he won’t hesitate to criticize Obama for being insufficiently liberal and insufficiently true to the cause of civil rights.

So, President Obama threw him under the bus.

Here is what he told CBS news:

“I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served — his constituents very well but these — allegations are very troubling.  And he'll — he's somebody who's at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I'm sure that — what he wants is to be able to — end his career with dignity. And my hope is that — it happens.”

Et tu, Mr. Chairman.

The interesting thing is that if Mr. Rangel had taken the deal offered to him by the Republicans on the Ethics committee, he would have walked away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Now, he is walking around with a knife in his back.   And that knife was plunged into him by his own President.

Rangel, predictably, is blaming the racists in Congress for his ethical transgressions.  He hinted that he was doing the same thing as Trent Lott, Mitch McConnell and Jesse Helms, as if these white southerners are able to get away with something that a black Democrats can’t get away with.

But the racists (as envisioned by Mr. Rangel) now include Zoe Lofgren (Chairwoman of the Ethics Committee and a big-time liberal), Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times (they started the ball rolling with an expose on the Chairman’s transgressions) and of course, Barack Obama.

Charlie Rangel is well-liked by his colleagues, but like many old-time bulls, the arrogance of power finally got the best of him.  President Obama, sensing an opportunity, wasted no time in taking the Chairman out.