Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY).
Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY).
Photo: Samuel Corum (Getty Images)

This has been a rough time for politicians.

Most of the time they can be their usual wicked selves and it doesn’t upset the way the wind blows, but that was before we all saw a Minneapolis cop kneel on a man’s neck until life was slowly and painfully drained from his body.

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Requiring politicians to have compassion shouldn’t be that big of an ask, but that would assume they had a compassionate bone in their body in the first place. How hard is it to listen intently to a community that is grieving? How hard it is to express empathy? Apparently, for some politicians, that’s a bridge too far.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat facing a tough primary challenge who, by all accounts, is worthless, was recently caught on a hot mic trying to bogart a speaking opportunity during a George Floyd press conference and was heard twice saying that he was only there because he’s facing an election.

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“‘If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care,’ Engel said to Ruben Diaz, Jr., the Bronx borough president, at a Tuesday press conference responding to unrest and vandalism in his district related to the recent death of George Floyd,” NBC News reports. Diaz tried to explain to the asshole that he had a lineup already and didn’t want elected officials hogging the damn mic when it wasn’t about them.

“I cannot have all the electeds talk because we will never get out of here,” Diaz can be heard saying.

A local television station caught the moment and tweeted it out; that tweet has nearly 1.5 million views as of Thursday.

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From NBC News:

It comes as Engel has faced his toughest primary since being elected to Congress in 1988. He represents New York’s 16th Congressional District, which includes portions of the Bronx and Westchester as well as Mount Vernon, Yonkers and New Rochelle, which was one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak. Engel has faced growing criticism about his lack of presence in his district, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic, and now given the demonstrations and vandalism in his district.

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Engel tried to explain his comments in a statement issued to NBC News, but nah, son, we heard that shit.

“In the context of running for reelection, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that’s why I asked to speak,” he said. “Of course I care deeply about what’s happening in this country, that’s what I wanted to convey. I love the Bronx, grew up in the Bronx and lived here all my life. I would not have tried to impose on the Borough President if I didn’t think it was important.”

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Yeah, that didn’t explain the whole “If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t be here” part of the problem.

Engel’s main Democratic challenger, Jamaal Bowman, sharply criticized Engel, saying the moment was difficult to watch.

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“This is so incredibly painful to watch from Rep. Eliot Engel,” Bowman said in a statement. “We need to be taking care of our communities right now—whether it’s election season or not,” It’s clear that we need new leadership in NY-16.”

New York’s primary is scheduled for June 23.

Vote.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

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