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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.

By Jonathan Capehart  | March 9, 2010; 11:36 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

The pathetic thing is that someone like Rangel ever was able to have power. He is totally unsuited to enact legislatio he himself is unwilling to follow, and he is arrogant, even by Congressional standards. Since he is a Congressman, he is corrupt almost by definition. Pathetic and sad. He should retired before he is jailed.

Posted by: sailhardy | March 9, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Sad, very sad. Especially since Rangel started out as a distinguished Korea war vet from Korea. The Apollo theater was bad enough, but this also tars the Democrats and Congressional Black Caucus - Pelosi would have been screaming for a Republican to resign but stood silent here. With the Caucus, silence on both Rangel and Waters seems more typical of a self interest group. Lot of power to do good was lost here and letting it fester, especially after all the other warnings (Apollo, taxes, etc.) telegraphed so much earlier, kept it upfront news and well known. And there's even a look like some bias here - several other congresspersons were cleared by the ethics committee at the same time for some of the same things, or more. One person of one color, no matter how bad, standing along for the same event lets far right enders do self reinforcment by privately and smugly saying to each other "told you so about them..." while people of same color will see a raw racist deal. And others will see all of Congress as without ethics.

Posted by: southVAHmptn | March 9, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

They may have let Rangel ride a long time but the Dems sure went after Massa quickly. Massa strikes me as an idiot, but that doesn't usually matter to either party, as long as he's their idiot. In terms of sexual harrassment, Ted Kennedy should have been booted out 30 years earlier and Bill Clinton should have taken more heat too, but somehow, they adored them. That's the only reason I give a single thought to Massa's claim that the real reason he was hustled out is because the Dems didn't want him voting against their health "reform" reconciliation.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | March 9, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Resign.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 9, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

By Jonathan Capehart | March 9, 2010; 11:36 AM ET

"Perkins let it be known that he was thinking about challenging the lion of Harlem"

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Rangel has stolen enough money and needs to go home. Doing selfish things for a long period of time he became too FAT and still wants to play dumb.

He should start drinking regular coffee in the morning that will keep him awake.

Posted by: 68b2b | March 9, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: naitkonlyyou | March 9, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

44 years? I guess you didn't do too good at math. He was elected to Congress in 1970, though he was elected to the ASSEMBLY in 1966.

Posted by: knoblove | March 10, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Seems like the Dems are getting fired on first, it's like Fort Sumter all over again. All these democrats "retiring" now Charlie got some issues, check out this story I read on Charlie's "step down" its a pretty cool one

check the story

http://wendygdphillips.wordpress.com

I never knew the wordpress jungle had that much talent

it's a shame.

Posted by: republicanblack | March 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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