Two weeks after Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) called President Bush a modern-day equivalent of segregationist Bull Connor, Vice President Cheney yesterday suggested that Rangel may be having a crack-up.
The comments "were so out of line, it almost struck me that there was some -- Charlie was having some problem," the vice president said during an interview with radio host Rush Limbaugh. "Charlie is losing it, I guess."
A few hours later, Cheney repeated the non compos mentis allegation with conservative commentator Sean Hannity: "He's losing it, I guess. He's started saying some very nasty things. He used to be one of the more pleasant folks on the other side."
Connor was the Birmingham public safety commissioner and a staunch civil rights opponent during the 1960s. Rangel made the comparison to Bush at a Congressional Black Caucus town hall meeting in Washington on Sept. 22. Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman demanded that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean repudiate the comments. Dean did not. And, yesterday, Rangel spokesman Emile Milne declined to comment on Cheney's psychological diagnosis of his boss.
Moore Picks a GOP Fight in Alabama
Deposed Alabama chief justice Roy Moore (R) reentered the political arena yesterday, announcing he would launch a primary campaign against Gov. Bob Riley (R) -- setting up a high-profile, intra-party battle likely to reverberate in national conservative circles.
Moore made his announcement in Gadsden, where he first gained national recognition in the 1990s as a circuit court judge who refused to take down a wooden plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. When Moore was elected the state's chief justice in 2000, he installed a huge granite monument to the commandments in the rotunda of the state's judicial building. He was forced to step down in 2003 after refusing a federal judge's order to remove the monument.
Moore's stand turned him into a hero among social conservatives. After backing a state tax increase proposal that was roundly rejected by voters in 2003, Riley could be vulnerable on the right, analysts say. The governor will formally announce his candidacy at a 61st-birthday celebration Saturday. The eventual winner of this GOP contest will face either Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley (D) or former governor Don Siegelman (D) in 2006.
Cillizza is a staff writer for washingtonpost.com. The Fix, his online politics column, debuted this week.