Friday, November 10, 2006


Apparently context gets you out of anything these days. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is in some hot water for insulting Mississippi. But Rangel claims he meant no offense.

So what did he say?

Rangel, D-N.Y., was quoted in a Thursday article in The New York Times, saying: "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"

"How the hell is that not supposed to be offensive?" is my question. Rangel's response is to say that what he really meant to say was how much he loves New York:

Garcia e-mailed The Associated Press a response from Rangel: "I certainly don't mean to offend anyone, I just love New York so much that I can't understand why everyone wouldn't want to live here."

Uh-huh. See, if that's what you mean, what you generally say is "...but who the hell wants to live anywhere but New York?" In that case, it's not Mississippi-specific. I mean, what with all the hundreds of thousands of other places in the world, generally when you single one of them out it's customary to be talking about that place in know, as opposed to all the others.

Well, whatever. People misspeak; it happens. What I want to know is, why is this news, exactly? Chuck Rangel hates Mississippi. So what?

So Chip Pickering gets a soundbyte is what:

Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., issued a news release criticizing Rangel's words.

"I hope his remarks are not the kind of insults, slander, and defamation that Mississippians will come to expect from the Democrat leadership in Washington, D.C.," Pickering said.

Not the kind of defamation that Mississippians will come to expect from the Democrat leadership in Washington. Clever.

I can assure you with a great deal of certainty that they are not. First of all, it isn't "slander," strictly speaking, to say you don't want to live somewhere (no matter how rude you are about it). Second and more importantly, since this is the kind of thing that politics turns on these days, what with everyone being as thin-skinned as Pickering obviously is, it's political suicide to make too many of these kinds of statements anyway. Which is to say, couldn't Pickering have just insulted him back and been done with it?

So how 'bout that deficit, boys?


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