Charlie Rangel won’t get a high-profile speaking slot at the Democratic convention, and he can thank Barack Obama for the snub. The powerful chair of the House Ways and Means Committee wanted a prime-time spot to address the delegates in order to help bring unity to the party. Obama apparently thinks Rangel serves better as a warning to others for showing disloyalty to The One:
The Obama campaign is denying House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel a speaking role at this month’s Democratic National Convention – a move those close to the powerhouse Harlem congressman view as a spiteful snub.
Rangel surrogates approached Obama staffers this week about the possibility of securing him a slot at the podium, making the case that it would showcase reconciliation between the nominee and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s African-American supporters.
But they were told that the 78-year-old congressman’s support for Clinton earned him a place at the end of the line behind Barack Obama’s loyalists – even if Rangel played a crucial part in prodding Clinton to abandon her presidential bid in June.
“It’s crazy… This man [Rangel] controls tax policy in the United States. He’s a lot bigger than just a regular member of Congress, he deserves more respect than this,” said a Rangel confidant. “Basically they have told us they can’t help us that there are too many Obama supporters ahead of Charlie on the line.”
Regardless of what happened on the campaign trail, a President Obama would need Rangel if he expects to get his tax policies signed into law. Rangel controls the agenda on Ways and Means, and if Obama wants to treat him like a traitor now, Rangel will almost certainly return the favor after the inauguration. Even more, Obama needs Rangel for GOTV efforts in New York City, although it’s highly doubtful that even a no-show by Rangel would put the state in jeopardy of turning Republican. If that’s at risk, then Obama’s already lost the national race.
If anything, this feeds into the perception of Obama’s arrogance. Obama acts as though he needs no one’s support to win the presidency, and that he will ascend by acclamation to the White House on clouds of media spin and a deluge of cash. The One has begun to grate on nerves, and not just Republican nerves now.
Some suggest that Rangel became too closely associated with Hillary Clinton and that Obama needs to minimize her in Denver, and that Rangel’s exclusion is an unfornuate necessity. That might be true if Obama had actually won the primary, but he hasn’t actually won anything yet. Half of the Democrats voted for Hillary, and minimizing her in Denver means minimizing those Democrats, like Rangel, that Obama needs to compete in November. This, combined with his insistence on avoiding a nominating roll-call vote for the first time in 124 years, paints a picture of a haughty autocrat, unwilling to forgive slights and ready to punish opponents far beyond any necessity. This isn’t “New Politics”, it’s LBJ with a better PR firm.