Now you know Charlie Rangel. He's a frequent guest on all the cabel news networks. He's the go to guy in all political debates.
Affable, smart and funny with a quick sarcastic wit, he always makes a good guest. He's likeable, intelligent, a dependable partisan and, most importantly, he's likely to leave a great sound bite.
But today Charlie outdid himself. The target of his carefully aimed barb was the hapless state of Mississippi, my adopted home state.
- "It's not just committees - our influence within the House Democratic caucus will grow enormously," Mr. Rangel said in an interview.
To that end, he sketched out an expansive federal agenda: Teaming up with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on gun control, passing new tax incentives for urban job programs, and redirecting federal money to New York in return for the outsize tax collections that the federal government makes here.
"Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" Mr. Rangel said.
My elected representative, the Honorable Bennie Thompson (D-MS) was characteristically quiet. WAPT, Channel 16 in Jackson is all over this story. They believe Rangel's comments were an insult to Mississippi and the result of cultural stereotyping and prejudice. WAPT contacted Bennie. WAPT reported, "He didn’t want to comment."
No way Bennie was going to criticize a fellow Democrat for merely insulting his state and all constituents who only days before had elected him to REPRESENT THEM in Congress.
Representing constituents is not one of Bennie's strong suits.
But Representative Charles Pickering (R-MS) was quick to pick up the gauntlet and issue a good natured response.
- "From the Coast to the Delta to the Pinebelt to the Hills and across Mississippi, there is beauty in every city, charity in every heart, love in every church, and majesty in every countryside. When I travel this state I see it in the resolute handshakes, the hospitable smiles, and the sincere prayers of our neighbors: we love Mississippi and we are proud and happy to live here," Pickering said.
Pickering concluded, "Last year, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Coast. We have been working hard not only to rebuild our own homes and communities, but also to repair and protect the network of refineries, pipelines, and transmission grids that supply energy, gas, and oil to the rest of the country, including New York."
"If Mr. Rangel believes those efforts required more than our fair share of federal money, he is welcome to send that energy back to our state and find an alternative supply..."
Let me be honest. It's simply not possible for anyone to stay mad at Charles Rangel. My hat's off to Chip Pickering. Let's hope all the debates in the next Congress can be this good natured.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES AND LINKS: New York Times (registration required), Mississippi's Sun Herald, Michelle Malkin
TECHNORATI TAGS: CHARLES RANGEL CHIP PICKERING MISSISSIPPI BENNIE THOMPSON
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