Conservative blogs were abuzz after former House Ways and Means Committee chairman Charles Rangel
, D-N.Y., took a sexist shot at talk radio starlet and bestselling author Laura Ingraham during her guest-hosting duties on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor. But Ingraham’s interview delivered more than tabloid fodder – including the disclosure that the once-powerful Rangel is dissatisfied with Obama’s failure to help blacks.
“Let me say this,” Rangel told Ingraham a few minutes in. “Bill O’Reilly told me he had a secret weapon. I didn’t know it was just a pretty girl that he would bring here.”
Ingraham responded, “That’s very condescending. ‘A pretty girl?’ These are serious questions.”
It was that exchange that attracted the blogosphere’s titters, but Ingraham had indeed been asking some very weighty questions. And she got at least one newsworthy answer from Rangel, who last year became only the 23rd congressman in history to receive the penalty of censure in the well of the House by his colleagues, after an ethics committee investigation confirmed an accumulation of tax violations.
“You will not answer a simple question: has Obama worked for the inner city?” Ingraham asked near the end of her time with Rangel. After a pause, Rangel finally conceded, answering “No,” but quickly adding that “nobody has … and it isn’t just the inner city. We have white people, middle-class people whose dreams have been shattered.”
Rangel told Ingraham, “Obama has not restored that hope that was taken from them by George Bush.” Indeed, Black unemployment is currently about 16 percent, far above the 9.1 percent general jobless rate.
The interview apparently had an ambitious goal: confronting a prominent black Democrat and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus about whether decades of liberal policies have failed black Americans. It was not a new theme.
Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., the black former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and Iraq war veteran, was on the program the night before, charging that the Democratic Party keeps black voters on a “21st century plantation,” with black politicians serving as the plantation’s “overseers.”
Asked to respond, Rangel said West “doesn’t come from a political party that can ridicule plantations, and that type of thing.”
Ingraham said she wondered if Rangel believes that black conservative intellectuals like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are “not authentically black, either,” pointing out that, like West, they have argued that “the war on poverty might have been started with a great deal of good intentions,” but has ended up being “an utter failure for many minority communities in the United States.”
Ingraham contended that “In the inner city, in the school systems, we’ve seen increasing problems both with the family, with unemployment, across-the-board problems.”
When she brought up the recent complaints of Rangel’s fellow Black Caucus member Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., that Obama was not visiting black communities on his recent bus tour to empathize with the unemployed, Rangel was responsive, agreeing that “Heck no” Obama’s policies have not achieved the desired results for black America. But he laid the ultimate blame on Republicans.
“We had a Democratic president who inherited a heck of a deficit and he inherited a couple of wars,” Rangel said, “and then, after we lost the majority in the House, I think it’s safe to say that the Republicans took the position that their primary objective was not to work with him but to get rid of Obama.”
Congresswoman Waters, at a Black Caucus event in Detroit on Tuesday said, “We are supportive of the president but we are getting tired of it.” She called the black unemployment rate “unconscionable” and confessed that “we don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why on this trip that he’s in the United States now he’s not in any black communities.”
Waters, appearing on MSNBC, called West’s plantation accusations “a little bit ridiculous” and “hard to respond to.”
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