Keep talking...

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 26, 2006

It will be curious to see if the media in the coming days gives Rep. Charlie Rangel's "members of the military only join because they can't get a good job" comments similar play to Sen. John Kerry's "the troops are stupid" slur.

On "Fox News Sunday" this morning, Rangel had the following to say :

I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

Apparently, being a multimillionaire safety in the NFL isn't a good job, because no one would pick a military career over an NFL one. Apparently, being an energy trader at Goldman Sachs is also not a good job and one that someone would gladly give up to join the military to fight in Iraq.

There's lots of reasons that people join the military -- and certainly some of it is the educational benefits afforded soldiers. (Which certainly goes to prove that they're not stupid.) But Rangel devalues the service of every man and woman in the military with his noxious claim that people only join the military for the money.

Of course, Rangel continues to make these uninformed claims even in the face of research which proves his assertions to be unfounded.

You don't even have to do that research to know that Rangel's claims are bunk. Rangel claims that military recruits come from areas of the country with high unemployment. For the record, the national unemployment rate as of October 2006 was 4.4 percent. Where the recruit comes from is irrelevant if he or she is willing to move to an area with lower unemployment. And recruits nowadays certainly don't expect that they'll be based in their hometown.

Rangel's seat is safe for as long as he wants to keep it. But he's also the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee -- a high-profile position. The Democrats succeeded in making this month's election a referendum on how the GOP was running Congress and how President Bush is running the war. In two years, Republicans may run on a similar strategy, and Rangel's outrageous slurs can only help.

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