Rangel's diminishing hold on power
Rep. Charles Rangel is in trouble. We all know it. But his "leave of absence" from the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee, upon further reflection, is a recognition by the embattled Harlem congressman that he knows it. I did battle with Rangel over the Apollo Theater a decade ago, so I'm well acquainted with his knack for creating an alternate reality and doing things on his own terms. That he gave up the gavel he sought for so long is a sign, I believe, that serious trouble is ahead for him.
But just how weak Rangel is was brought home to me in a paragraph in an otherwise innocuous profile of New York State Sen. Bill Perkins and his opposition to charter schools.
The best hope for charter supporters to overcome him may be to pray for his political success. Mr. Perkins, 60, is considering running for the Congressional seat held by Charles B. Rangel, the Harlem titan who stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee last week because of ethics troubles.
What makes that paragraph stunning is that a Harlem machine pol like Perkins let it be known that he was thinking about challenging the lion of Harlem and the dean of the New York congressional delegation. Perkins would never consider challenging Rangel, let alone let such ruminations go public, were Rangel not so politically weak. And he is not the only one considering ending Rangel's 44-year hold on his congressional seat. The only question is whether Perkins and other elected officials in the district will have the guts to take him on if he stays in the race for a 21st term.
| March 9, 2010; 11:36 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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