Jonathan Garthwaite

Traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful tradition for Americans. Breaking bread with family members, remembering what's important, and getting some much-needed rest and relaxation are necessary exercises as a busy year begins to come to a close.

Getting together with family members from far and wide also has its minefields, with the possibilities of encountering a grumpy family patriarch, a gypsy daughter-in-law, or the cousin who, let's just say, hasn't found his calling in life — at 40. There always seems to be one person present who can't help but throw a wrench into the otherwise smooth-sailing festivities.

This past week, Congress came back to town, and the Democratic family came together to give thanks for its new majority power and to put its best foot forward in the national media spotlight.

This Thanksgiving the crazy uncle was a Democratic congressman from New York and soon-to-be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Actually, the Democrats have plenty of crazy uncles — and aunts for that matter — but Charles Rangel took the drumstick this time.

Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," Rangel said he would, after the Democrats take control, introduce legislation to reinstate the military draft as it was during the Vietnam War.

Rangel has been doing this "reinstate the draft" stunt for a few years now in an effort to scare the voting public and put pressure on the White House to cut and run from Iraq. His comments on "Face the Nation" illustrated his typical election year fear-mongering.

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," he said.

For years Rangel's proposal was simply a political stunt. It had no chance of passing — much less of coming up for a vote. It was simply one of the liberal members of the Democrat minority trying to suggest some sort of hypocrisy by the Republicans. Now that Democrats are about to take control on Capitol Hill, his political bomb-throwing takes on a whole new level of seriousness, and people have taken notice.

Unfortunately, for Rangel, it also means that he will probably be eating at the kids' table this Thanksgiving, as fellow Democrats were quick to distance themselves.

The day after Rangel announced his renewed desire to reinstate the draft, top Democrats said "not-so-fast Mr. Rangel." Bloomberg reported House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader-elect Steny Hoyer's reaction to Rangel.

Jonathan Garthwaite

Jonathan Garthwaite is General Manager of