Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel made an embarrassingly bad talking point on CNN Tuesday afternoon, and it seems that the media is already bending over backwards to try and soften its impact.
In an interview with CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield, Rangel dismissed a House proposal to re-open the government and avoid default by raising the debt ceiling and making changes to the Affordable Care Act. The New York pol said that Republicans are attempting to overthrow the government, like when they were known by another name: The Confederacy.
“I’m certain that history is going to record that this is the lowest moment that we’ve had in the Congress,” Rangel said of the current political climate (which remember, he is part of).
“This isn’t a question of the House and Senate differing. This is not even a question about Republicans and Democrats differing. This is all about a handful of people who got elected as Republicans that want to bring down our government. The same way they fought as Confederates, they want to bring down the government and reform it.”
Not only is this the cheapest of the cheap shots, it doesn’t even stand up to historical scrutiny. Yes, a Democrat founded the Klu Klux Klan and yes, the Republicans actually successfully pushed the end of slavery despite hard Democratic opposition, but that’s not even the point.
The point is that the political landscape changes so much decade to decade that yesterday’s Republicans are no more today’s Republicans than yesterday’s Democrats are today’s Democrats. Historically, the parties flip flop on the issues so much that it wouldn’t even be fair to compare today’s Democrats to the slavery-ending Republicans or vice versa.
This is why you see Confederate flags at Tea Party rallies and Democrats pushing marriage equality when Bill Clinton’s own signature ushered DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell into law just under two decades ago.
Thankfully, Banfield did her job and laughed right at Rangel’s most ridiculous, binary understanding of American history.
“Wait a minute… whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” she shot back. “I’m sorry. Are you likening — and I’m only assuming that you’re referring to the tea party members, who are pretty intransigent on their views — are you likening them to Confederates?”
Hilariously, despite the media’s attempts to soften Rangel’s comments toward the Tea Party exclusively (we’re looking at you, Huffington Post), he didn’t even bother to correct the record with that question right in his lap. All he had to say was “Yes, I meant Tea Party Republicans.” Instead, he said…
“Well, I can tell you this, if you look at the states that they control, take a look at the Dixiecrats, see how they went over to the Republican Party,” Rangel replied.
He’s possibly referring to the controversial “Southern Strategy,” but even an armchair understanding of that nonsense pretty much invalidates his implications.
Indeed, Banfield managed to summarize the whole thing quite nicely.
“Michele Bachmann is not from Dixie,” Banfield interrupted. “What are you talking about?”
Check out Charlie Rangel trying to score cheap political points on CNN up top, let us know what you think below.