THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

Rangels two-sided back-track …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on May 12, 2008

Kenneth Vogel in Politico reports:

NEW YORKRep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), among Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top African-American supporters, was none too pleased with Clinton’s comments this week to USA Today that she has broader appeal with white voters.

The statement was “the dumbest thing she could have said,” Rangel told reporters before a Clinton fundraiser in a midtown hotel ballroom Saturday.

He called her statement “very poorly worded” but acknowledged there may be some truth to it. 

“In any campaign, there are groups of people that you know that you have and groups of people that you don’t,” he said. “And I don’t care what it is. White, black, Catholic, Protestant — pollsters and newspaper reporters, that’s all they know, and so they keep asking the same question over and over. I mean, this happens in campaigns.”

Still, Rangel said Clinton should leave it to others to make the case that she has more appeal to white voters.

“That is rough campaign talk. That is not presidential talk. You leave that stuff to the boys in the backroom,” said Rangel, the dean of New York’s congressional delegation.

We always understood the endorsement of Sen. Clinton from longtime Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) as fairly smart politics … or, rather, common sense politics.  He’s part of the New York state Congressional delegation, which also includes his colleague now running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.  In this case, his state (where he and his district resides) comes first.  Of course, there are many African Americans who would like to think that Rangel, of all people, would understand the need for Black political solidarity with his Congressional Black Caucus colleague Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).  But, it’s not that simple.  Rangel, at the end of the day, has to work with his Senate colleagues in order to bring ”bacon” to his district, primarily the rapidly gentrifying Harlem part of New York City.  Again, African American elected officials are … elected officials. 

The great thing about this Democratic primary is that the Black political elite have been exposed for what they truly are: politicians.  That’s not such a bad thing; it simply shows that we’ve evolved and matured politically.  What we take exception to is when they front as though they are not politicians but, instead, community activists or battle-crying advocates and “race saviors.”  For too long, most African Americans have been fooled into the totality of that notion. 

In the situation reported by Politico, Rangel is clearly positioning himself for some sort of reconciliation with Obama once the nomination is formally locked by the Senator from Illinois.  But, he still can’t free himself from the chains of the Clinton endorsement since his priority is his district.  The lock and key to these chains is provided courtesy of the New York state and city Democratic political machine, which ensures that all its members fall in line. 

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