“Charlie Rangel might be the Strom Thurmond of Harlem.” It sounded like something one of Rangel’s primary opponents would have said Tuesday just after losing to the congressman, but it was actually said by a staunch supporter, Assemblyman Keith Wright, who made the curious statement to the New York Times at Rangel’s victory party.
Like the late senator from South Carolina, Rangel, 82, has served in Congress for more than four decades. Wright set the bar pretty low for his hero, who is now well on his way to another term after defeating his Democratic opponents Tuesday. Rangel is getting closer to Thurmond’s remarkable longevity, but surely Harlem residents as well as Rangel’s new constituents on the Upper East Side and in the Bronx deserve more vigorous representation than the people of South Carolina got from Thurmond his last few years.
C-Span devotees will no doubt recall Senate hearings with an ailing Thurmond reading questions without any indication he was comprehending what he was saying, let alone the responses from the witnesses.
Rangel looks to be in much better shape than Thurmond was at the end, so let’s just hope Wright was merely engaging in the classic political maneuver of lowering expectations to make your ally look better when he exceeds them.
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