Get out of the race, Rep. Rangel
It turns out that Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) and the ethics subcommittee he led for nearly two years looking into misconduct allegations against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) don’t have the authority to recommend sanctions against the Harlem congressman. "I found out that wasn't our authority," Green said. That’s good to know -- because it gives Rangel that much more time to do the honorable thing before the (velvet, no doubt) hammer hits. The 20-term dean of the New York congressional delegation must step aside in his bid for reelection.
Rangel is a very proud man. Chris Smith of New York magazine chronicles his extraordinary rise, his accomplishments and the emerging leaders champing at the bit to replace him. But it is that pride -- his continued resistance to admitting wrongdoing and his view that what he’s accused of is no different than what other members of Congress, mainly Republicans, have done -- that has irreparably damaged a career he spent 40 years building. And now Rangel’s self-indulgence threatens more than his legacy. It threatens his beloved Democratic Party, which is heading into the midterm elections with weakened prospects of holding power in the House amid raging anti-incumbent fever.
The trial of Charles B. Rangel by the adjudication subcommittee of the ethics committee will be a very public event. Its expected start date, Sept. 13, is significant for two reasons. First, it hands the Republicans a juicy target for their fall campaigns. They will say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed in her promise to drain the swamp of corruption in Congress. And Rangel would be their Exhibit A in what the GOP would claim are the excesses of an out-of-touch and cossetted Democratic majority. The former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee stands accused of not paying taxes, not reporting investment income and flouting rules to benefit a pet project.
Second, the New York primary is Sept. 14. Folks in Rangel’s district were none too pleased by the charges against him. Though it was once unimaginable, some of his most ardent admirers and supporters are calling on him to "pack it in." The people are making their voices heard in the press. They should be heard at the ballot box on primary day by giving them a chance to send to Washington someone free of ethical taint.
"I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well, but these allegations are very troubling, and, you know, he's somebody who is at the end of his career, 80 years old," President Obama told CBS News in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday and today. "I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity, and my hope is that happens."
Pride cometh before the fall. Rangel has fallen. The most dignified thing he could do -- for his constituents and his party -- is announce that he will not seek reelection.
| August 1, 2010; 9:00 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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