'Tis the holiday season - a time to reflect on all that we have been blessed with here in America. And with those blessings, also the great responsibilities bestowed upon us, each according to the role our Creator has endowed. Soon, that paragon of virtues, the U.S. House of Representatives will return to complete its unfinished business. One piece of such business the entire chamber, both Democrat and Republican, is dreading. For when the People's House reconvenes, it must publicly punish Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for the several criminal acts he committed against the institution and his colleagues.
The technical term for this punishment is a "censure." To the average American, however, Rangel may be getting off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Think about it- any other individual who concealed shady business deals, evaded paying taxes, and used his elective office to advance his own fame and fortune would be behind bars by now. But, the Congress treats its own differently.
Still,Rangel pleaded for mercy when facing his accusers last week. He stated he felt his colleagues should honor that request because he didn't commit these acts for his own "personal gain." Really? I find that hard to believe. Here we have a sitting member - and chairman of the tax-writing committee - use his office to solicit funds for centers and other enterprises with his name on them. Who avoided paying taxes, only to say they were staff errors? Look, I'm not penning this column to re-try Charlie Rangel. It's clear he's remorseful and saddened by his actions. I applaud that.
But now, he should take his regrets and do the honorable thing and leave the Congress before year's end, even before this House vote. My argument is not based on politics. Rangel's seat is safely in Democratic hands. No, there is simply nothing left for Rangel to do.
The fall of Charlie Rangel bring up several issues. Rangel did not do anything the Congressmen before him hadn’t, and many still do. The difference is that Rangel was starting to be considered a liability by the Pelosi camp, so she fed him to the Republicans and public as the token Democrat to live up to her rhetoric on “draining the swamp” of corruption in the Congress. Strangely, the earliest charge only dates back 10 years ago. It seems odd that after 40 years of public service, Rangel would suddenly start betraying the public trust. It begs the questions “Did he get sloppy, get targeted, or finally give in to temptation?” The latter thought is the most depressing- that a man stood strong for 40 years and decided to throw his hands in the air and joins the barbarians at the gate. This does not excuse Rangel’s behavior, it’s merely food for thought.