"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts" the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, something Congressman Charles Rangel seemingly never picked up. In the Fox News Sunday segment which featured Barney Frank attacking Fox News, host Chris Wallace presented to Congressman Rangel findings from a Heritage Foundation Study that the military are in fact from a healthier economic background and better educated than the general American public. Rangel, with the facts in front of him, reverted to his original talking points disputing those very facts. He even made a John Kerry-like claim implying those serving in the military are not particularly patriotic or even very smart. The question is, will the mainstream media pick up on it?
Wallace: "Congressman Rangel, you caused quite a stir this week when you said that you're going to introduce a bill to reinstate the draft. Here's what you said this week in a newspaper article. Let's take a look. 'The great majority of people bearing arms in this country, for this country in Iraq are from the poorer communities in our inner cities and rural areas,' but a recent and very detailed study by the Heritage Foundation found the following, and we're going to put that up. 13 percent of recruits are from the poorest neighborhoods. That's less than the national average of people living in those neighborhoods. 97 percent of recruits have high school diplomas. Among all Americans, the graduation rate is under 80 percent. And blacks make up 14.5 percent of recruits for the military. The national average is 12 percent. Congressman, in fact, contrary to what you've been saying, isn't the volunteer army better educated and more well-to-do than the general population?"
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): "Of course not. I want to make it abundantly clear that I have been advocating a draft ever since the president has been talking about war, and none of this comes within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee. But 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 fellow 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. So anyone who supports the war and is against everyone sharing in the sacrifice is being hypocritical about the whole thing. The record is clear and once we are able to get hearings on this, everyone will see what they already know, and that is that those who have the least opportunities at this age find themselves in the military, as I did when I was 18 years old."
The following morning, on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade discussed the Rangel comments with Fox News Sunday panelist Bill Kristol.
Steve Doocy: "Did you hear what Charlie Rangel said over the weekend, Bill?"
Bill Kristol: "I, I, if he said it on Fox News Sunday I heard it because I try to watch the show before the panel. I think it's polite to do that. Everyone knows the panel part is the only important part. But still, you like, you like to pretend that the guests matter."
Steve Doocy: "You know, I understand. Well, Chris Wallace had said, had talked a little bit about how, you know, Charlie Rangel, of course very interested in reinstating the draft. Chris said, you know, there is a study out by the Heritage Foundation that finds that, that people in the military generally have higher grades and finish more high school and stuff like that than just, than just the general public. And then you were right there. What did Charlie Rangel say?"
Kristol: "Well, what did he say? I can't remember now."
Doocy: "Well, I'm glad you asked. We got the sound bite. This should refresh your memory."
Kristol: "Good, good."
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): "If a young fellow 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."
Doocy: "Hey now wait a minute that kind of sounds like what John Kerry said a couple weeks ago and got himself in a lot of trouble."
Kristol: "Well, it's just not true. You know, I know young men and women who have fought in Iraq and who are, or are about to be sent to Iraq, who are college graduates. Some of them are college graduates. They've chosen to serve the country. It's really unbelievable, frankly, that a senior member of Congress could say that. I mean what does it, I mean I do agree it sounds like John Kerry except John Kerry was telling a bad joke and Charlie Rangel is trying to be serious. And it's, you know, I mean, whether you agree with the war in Iraq or not, you know, the idea that people serving in the military wouldn't sign, they only sign up out of desperation and that no one wants to fight for your country. Would he say the same thing about a soldier who has been deployed to Afghanistan or a soldier who's defending the U.S. in other ways? I mean it's really a terrible thing to say I think."
Gretchen Carlson: "No, I think, I think that, that some people are lumping joining the military in with only one option which is Iraq. And you bring up a great point that there are of course other missions that one could be deployed to."
Kristol: "That mission is itself defending the country."
Carlson: "Of course."
Kristol: "I mean, you know, soldiers don't get to vote which mission they go on."
Kristol: "It's really a terrible thing, I think, for, for Rangel to say and also empirically false as the study shows."
Brian Kilmeade: "The other thing Bill, it gets people off the Democratic message which is to show that they can govern and they're not speaking from the same hymn book and they're speaker has not asserted herself to the point where people like Congressman Charlie Rangel are concerned about diverting the party from the message."
Kristol: "Right, I mean if the Democratic party's position is going to be that only people who are desperate join the military, that the military is kind of a last resort employer."
Kristol: "That no one sane would join the military if God forbid we ever have to fight. If the Democratic position is that there are no wars that are worth fighting and that, you know, the world is so wonderful that we're never going to have to deploy forces abroad, they're not going to win the presidency."