Mona Charen

I'm starting to wonder: Is President Obama fair to African-Americans?

Asked about Rep. Charlie Rangel's ethics problems on CBS's "Evening News," the president could hardly have been more direct if he'd seized Rangel by the back of the collar and belt and pitched him out the door. "I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well, but these allegations are very troubling. And he'll -- he's somebody who's at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens."

Now Rangel, who is fighting the ethics charges, had no plans to "end his career" and may wonder why the president is so eager to usher him off stage.

The Rangel toss comes in the aftermath of the Shirley Sherrod affair. Though the White House and Democratic operatives have been beavering away, attempting to rewrite the history of this episode as an example of right-wing -- specifically Fox News -- villainy, the truth is otherwise.

Sherrod was fired, as she told it, due to White House worries that her story would be appearing on the Glenn Beck show. It was fear of the Beck show, not the actuality, that prompted the White House's panicked response. Her dismissal came before any mention of her name on Fox air.

Sherrod, who has since received apologies from the secretary of Agriculture and President Obama, had ignited one of those racial flashpoints that Obama seems particularly keen to avoid.

The White House may still be smarting from Glenn Beck's successful "outing" of Obama's "green jobs czar" Van Jones. But if so, it suggests that they misread that episode.

Last summer, Beck discovered and trumpeted that Jones had a seriously left-wing extremist background. A former member of the Marxist STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement), Jones was an advocate for police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and a signatory to a 9/11 "truther" petition. The petition called upon then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to investigate whether "people within the current (Bush) administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." Jones is also an African-American, and in the wake of the Sherrod affair, it's fair to ask whether that fact loomed particularly large for the president.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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