Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Congressman Charlie Rangel Calls Barack Obama Stupid

While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have agreed to tone down their rhetoric after this week's racially charged battle, one loyal follower of the Clinton camp, Charlie Rangel, had other ideas.

On a CNN interview, Rangel said that Barack Obama was "absolutely stupid" for his part in the conversation about the relative contributions of Martin Luther King and Lyndon B. Johnson.

"How race got into this thing is because Obama said 'race,'" Rangel said in an interview. "But there is nothing that Hillary Clinton has said that baffles me."

Clinton and Obama got into a dispute over the issue after Hillary Clinton implied in a speech that Martin Luther King's dream became reality primarily because he had a president willing to sign the legislation to make it into law.

"I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act,” said Rangel. “But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid. It's absolutely dumb to infer that Doctor King, alone, passed the legislation and signed it into law."

Some have argued that Rangel is off base for his vicious attack on Barack Obama. Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse Professor and regular CNN guest, says that Rangel completely missed what the Obama camp was trying to say.

"Barack was communicating that politicians are bell weathers for public opinion, not much else," says Dr. Watkins. "If King had not engaged in the risk necessary to create the public sentiment needed for the Civil Rights Act to be passed, Johnson wouldn't have signed anything. King deeply cared about Civil Rights, Johnson only cared about doing whatever people told him to do. He would have signed a law reducing Civil Rights if the public had demanded it."

Charlie Rangel is a Congressman from the State of New York.

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