Amidst all the headscratching over the antics of Representative Charlie Rangel and the case of the all new, bright and shiny round two of the bring-back-the-draft issue, some clear and meaningful words are being spoken. By Charlie: (Thanks to HotAir for the video)
I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.
Of course he says this knowing full well it's not true. Anyone can read the statistics on the composition of our armed forces. One of those who surely did is Rangel, who is not stupid and seldom poorly informed. Indeed as a lobbyist I always had the highest respect for his intelligence. And for his cynicism and hardball practicality.
So what's Charlie up to?
Legislators have many reasons to introduce and publicize bills they never intend to vote on. They may genuinely believe in a cause, or have crucial constituents or donors who do, and want to get it some air. They may be a designated water carrier whose own agenda is immaterial. They may introduce a hated concept, hoping to inspire a backlash. They may be marketing themselves, or doing some informal polling and venue shopping on a particular issue.
Lobbying 101: You can ask people theoretical questions all day, but putting a bill in the hopper brings out their real feelings in a hurry.
Rob over at Say Anything thinks Rangel and Kerry are looking to provide cover for a pullout from Iraq:
If they can make the troops appear to be nothing more than a bunch of simpletons who were manipulated into fighting a “war for profit” or “war for oil” by the evil Bush/Cheney/Rove cabal they’ve won.
And I do think he's got it partly right. But let's talk about the elephant in Charlie's living room - the fact that in Rangel's district, substantial numbers of young men may in fact be uneducated and jobless. That they already have criminal records. That for them hope exists not as a range of possibilities but simply as the bifurcated extremes - "I'm gonna be a famous rapper/NBA star/nightclub owner someday" at the one end, with "I'll get a good corner of the hood to deal from" at the other.
Rangel is telling the truth, or part of the truth, at least in the 15th. Let's not forget that Rangel needs to get himself re-elected every two years. Of course he tells the folks in Harlem what they want to hear. And of course he tells the insular limousine liberals of the Upper East and West Sides what THEY want to hear; offering excuses for the failures of one slice of his district while blaming the man the other slice all loves to hate.
It doesn't hurt his feelings either; he's feeding his own delusions of being Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson back in the good old feisty days. As a side dish, he's doing a real service to Kerry, Pelosi and Reid, saying the outrageous things that make them appear more moderate. He's delivering the payoff frissom to moonbat squads everywhere. They need to believe the military is composed of exploited poverty-addled unfortunates, and here an unimpeachable black Congressman is saying just that.
Poverty pimps would be out of business without periodic new recruits into victimhood, denial, blaming and hopelessness. Rangel and his ilk are the recruiters for the army of the entitled. From behind his real or manufactured anger on behalf of his poorer constituents, from behind the skirts of the MOMA donors, he takes aim at the mainstream. Confusion, respect for his hostages and just plain astonishment have held back our return fire.
As an aside, Charlie himself makes our best case right in his quote above. He's right that our military isn't there just for the bonuses and educational benefits. And he's wrong when he assumes our servicemen fight out of desperation. They are fighting because they believe in America, believe there is a threat against us, and want to do what they can against that threat. They believe that their service IS a "decent career" and they resent mightily that Rangel, Kerry, et al don't see it that way.
Far from not understanding why Rangel is doing what he's doing, I think he's a genius for doing it so blasted well. It can't be a coincidence that Bill Clinton's office is in his neighborhood. The chief spinmeister and triangulator himself could be co-writing Charlie's current wrangle. Two New Yorkers who know all the angles. The redeeming feature is that at some point, ham-fisted Pelosi will have to take over. We can count on her to spoil the script, out of jealousy if nothing else.
Charlie is a Congressman for life, much like my own Congressman Jim McDermott here in Seattle. The draft legislation gambit will help Charlie appease his minority constituents, suck more cash from the affluent ones and egg on the moonbats. He, along with Reid, Pelosi, Kerry and the rest of the usual suspects have made their best case that the war is being fought by fools, losers and tools. They've served notice on us that the BushCheneyRovians want to bleed minorities to death for fun and profit. Yawn.
If Charlie is as smart as I think he is, he'll be content with all this. Lobbying 201: Will his bill mysteriously fail to get scheduled for a hearing? There will be a test.