Rangel: Not a Psychiatrist

Representative Charlie Rangel just called now to explain his strident and surprisingly personal objections to Eliot Spitzer’s health care spending plan, which included an assertion that the governor has an anger problem.

In a brief interview with Rangel just now, he said, “We’re going to have to clear the air if we’re going to operate as professionals. Period. No further comment.”

He went on to say that the whole debate is “very unpleasant for me,” and “we’re not going to be distracted by television ads.”

The conversation also included this fun exchange:

CR: So, I don’t want to get any further involved. I will be getting further involved, but not where you’re taking me.

AP: I’m not trying to take you anywhere.

CR: Well you should, if you’re a professional reporter…

The full transcript is after the jump.

– Azi Paybarah

Charlie Rangel:
I do have a problem discussing the Spitzer budget because I’m concentrating my time on the Bush budget cuts. But it doesn’t help us as legislators with the same constituents, federal and state, to be caught in a food fight and this procedure is one that has caused, that has caused many of us concern. And whether it’s labor or hospitals or the city or legislators, we’re going to have to clear the air if we’re going to operate as professionals. Period No further comment.

ME
Are people acting like professionals right now, when discussing this issue?

CR
No further comment.

ME
Have you spoken with Eliot?

CR
Yes.

ME
How did that conversation go?

CR
All of my conversations go well with everybody. Maybe not Giuliani, because I’m advocating his presidency.

ME
That’s true. And with Dick Cheney I imagine.

CR
Dick Cheney? Well, it’s improving. We haven’t talked for months, so that’s improving.

ME
You have his old office, right?

CR
No, he had my office. His lease expired.

ME
But just to go back to–

CR
This is very unpleasant for me. This is very unpleasant. And we’re not going to be able to effectively deal with the budgets. You know we only got one patient, one doctor, one nurse. They’re not Republican. They’re not Democrat. They’re not from the city. They’re problems are not just from the state, or from Medicaid or Medicare. They’re sick people; they need help. And we are not going to get involved in a food fight about how that heath is delivered. We’re going to have to work together from the city level, the state level, and the congressional level. And we’re not going to be distracted by television ads.

ME
Both sides are running television ads.

CR
Listen. When I made my remarks, the people were there. [Ken] Raske and [Dennis] Rivera and the hospitals and labor. And the governor was down earlier. So, I don’t want to get any further involved. I will be getting further involved, but not where you’re taking me.

ME
I’m not trying to take you anywhere.

CR
Well you should, if you’re a professional reporter, you should know what you’re [doing], you’re asking the questions [that] should be concise, to the point and driven.

ME
Do you think the mayor has an anger problem?

CR
I have not been trained in psychiatry to be able to determine whether other people have psychiatric problems. I don’t really think about it.

ME
You have said you Dick Cheney might have mental problems. So you’ve obviously evaluated other people in some capacity.

CR
Well, I knew Dick Cheney better than I knew Spitzer.

ME
Where is there room to negotiate on health care?

CR
I have to leave. But let me say this. There’s no one is going to disagree with me on any level of government that this is not the way to negotiate. Period.

ME
Got it.

CR
Okay. Great.