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Harlem Pretty Mad That Republicans Brought Down Rangel and Paterson

12:39 PM, Mar 8, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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To be fair, I too was pretty upset when Democrats set up promising conservative Mark Sanford with that attractive Argentine anchorwoman, thereby ending his national political aspirations:

"I think it's been catastrophic for the black community in America and particularly in Harlem," said Bill Lynch, a political consultant who played a major role in Dinkins's historic 1989 election victory. "Harlem's seeing their political favorite sons go down. And what I'm worried about is that this could set our community back decades."...

"Republicans may have gone too damn far, and people are looking at this," said Inez E. Dickens, a City Council member who represents Harlem. Her father, Lloyd Dickens, had backed political candidates going back to the days of Powell. Dickens was sitting in her living room one afternoon fielding calls from constituents worried about the fates of Rangel and Paterson. To yet another caller: "Honey, I hear you. Write those letters! The congressman needs you now more than ever."

In the Washington Post's entire nostalgic portrait of Harlem's political history, there is but one hint of recriminations for Rangel or Paterson, who are both well known for having brought their problems on themselves. In the case of Paterson, it's fairly obvious it was Democrats who had the most to do with his stepping aside. But if it weren't for vintage clothing shop owner, Montgomery Harris, you'd never know that Rangel or Paterson had anything to answer for:

Not far away, at her own shop, Montgomery Harris was folding pieces of her elegant clothing, some of which are vintage. She has a picture she shows of Rangel, Basil Paterson, Sutton and Dinkins when they were young and on the march in Harlem. The scandals have unnerved her.

"It has created a situation where our black leaders have lost credibility," she said. "And credibility on things that make them seem like nickel-and-dime thieves. When you weigh it against the kind of power they had, it's sad. Rangel sat with King and Malcolm X. How could you be present for that and fall so short now? You had clear blueprints. Who and what will replace them is really the concern for the future."

The piece also includes Rangel saying his stepping down from his chairmanship is "selfless," and his campaign guru saying the 40-year veteran of Congress will run as an "insurgent."

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