The Negroes are coming
Hide the white women, Rangel and Conyers
Black Lawmakers Set to Take Crucial Posts Face Pressure
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: December 5, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 — The impending Democratic takeover of Congress will elevate more blacks to positions of power in the Capitol than ever: 4 major House committee chairmen, as many as 16 subcommittee chairmen, the third-ranking House Democratic leader and a senator considered a credible candidate for his party’s presidential nomination.
It is so much power that Representative Charles B. Rangel, the New York Democrat set to be chairman of the pivotal Ways and Means Committee, said he hesitated to speak about it publicly. “I don’t want to scare the hell out of people,” Mr. Rangel said, “that blacks are now in charge of the committees and so, therefore, watch out.”
While celebrating their rise to prominence, black lawmakers face conflicting pressures from their traditional supporters on one side and the Democratic leaders on the other. Many African-American lawmakers represent poor, predominantly black districts created to ensure black representation under voting rights laws. Their safely Democratic seats have helped them rise in seniority ahead of colleagues from more politically heterogeneous districts. Many lean well to the left of the Democratic caucus as a whole.
Traditional party allies like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus say they expect their newly powerful champions like Mr. Rangel, 76, to push a long-stalled agenda that includes hearings or a commission on reparations for slavery, guaranteeing voting rights for convicted felons, prohibiting racial profiling by police or customs officers, restricting gun sales, and sharply increasing the compensation paid to people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
But like other leaders of the larger Democratic caucus, the black lawmakers are being cautioned to be mindful of a broader audience that includes voters in Republican-leaning swing districts, where those initiatives can be politically perilous. And black lawmakers say they feel pressure to appeal to a broader audience because their names and faces often appear as emblems of their party’s liberalism in what they consider racially tinged campaign appeals by their opponents.
Stuff like reparations is playing to the base. Dealing with the cops, more urgent. But the real reason those folks are scared is that Conyers and Rangel have questions for Bush about how he's run this country. They don't care about felon voting, they care about Iraq.
posted by Steve @ 12:27:00 AM