10:04 pm Nov. 19, 2010
Andrew Sullivan was probably just distracted when he did a post on Steve Kornacki's analysis of Representative Jo Bonner's chastisement of an already-humiliated Charles Rangel during the House ethics trial on Thursday.
Sullivan (or a Sullivan assistant, maybe?) awarded Kornacki a booby prize for "divisive, bitter and intemperate left-wing rhetoric" for what was in fact an effort to place Bonner's eight-minute, made-for-YouTube scolding of Rangel—which might to the untrained eye have looked like a random act of cruelty—within the historical context of Bonner's Alabama district, and of Bonner's own political career. Specifically, Kornacki suggested that it will have been a net political benefit for Bonner at home to be seen assailing the man "who in some ways is the face of black urban politics in America," and that this was probably not lost on Bonner.
I'll take the liberty of ascribing motive to Sullivan (or his assistant) here, the way he did to Kornacki, and guess that he (or the assistant) quickly assessed Kornacki's piece as a bit of from-the-left demagoguery from a Salon guy, cut-and-pasted a line, and hit submit.
What Kornacki (a great big politics nerd and former colleague who has written for this site, and who has a distinctly unsentimental view of Rangel's place in the world) produced, actually, is a pretty convincing explanation of the politics underlying an extraneous display of sanctimony from a minor political figure whose house seems very much to be made of glass. (Bonner contributed several thousand dollars to the legal defense fund of former House majority leader Tom Delay, who resigned from Congress in 2006 after being indicted in Texas for violating campaign finance laws, for one thing.)
Sure, it's not racist to pile onto Rangel, who clearly isn't contrite and who was, after all, found guilty by a bipartisan group of his peers of just about everything he was accused of. And as Kornacki was careful to point out, part of Bonner's behavior could probably be accounted for by "simple partisan politics."
What Kornacki didn't point out, but certainly could have, is the fact that Bonner was one of only 33 House members to have voted against reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006.
Is it OK to suggest that that was probably good politics for him, too? Or is that being divisive?