Some characters become known for their signature phrase.
Steve Martin: "Well, excuusssssse MEEEEEE."
Gomer Pyle: "Golllllll-EEEE."
Joe Friday: "Just the facts Ma'am."
Mr. Whipple: "Please don't squeeze the Charmin."
U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangle (D-NY) is known for his signature phrase: "All we want is Simple FAI-ness"
Rep. Rangle is the fourth longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Until his current ethical lapses came to light he was the Chairman of the all-powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
After months and months of hoping it would just go away, the House Ethics Committee has agreed to appoint an eight-member committee (four Republicans and four Democrats) to investigate the charges against Rangle which, according to the Christian Science Monitor:
"range from misuse of rent-controlled apartments in New York City and failure to disclose income from a villa in the Dominican Republic to reports that he exchanged official favors in exchange for a $1 million gift to the Charles Rangel Center at City College of New York."
In addition, Jonathan Capehart, writing in the Washington Post, reminds us that Rangle had forgotten to report
"not one but two checking accounts -- CHECKING -- with up to $500,000 in them. How that slips the mind of the man who at the time was the powerful chief of the tax-writing committee is beyond me."
None of that, by the way, was enough for Nancy Pelosi, et. al. to remove Rangle from his position as Chairman of Ways and Means. What did the trick was: "when the House ethics panel reported that Rangel had violated House gift rules by accepting corporate funding for trips to the Caribbean."
There's a reason that Washington, DC has been described as "49 square miles surrounded by reality." Or, was that San Francisco in the '60s? It's very hard, sometimes, to tell them apart.
Members of Congress hate to investigate one another on the "there but for the grace of God go I" theory of having to consort with lobbyists and supporters on a fairly regular basis.
Larry Margasak, the dean of investigative reporters in Washington, wrote in his Associated Press piece,
"The timing of the announcement ensures that a public airing of Rangel's ethical woes will stretch into the fall campaign, and Republicans are certain to make it an issue as they try to capture majority control of the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had once promised to 'drain the swamp' of ethical misdeeds by lawmakers in arguing that Democrats should be in charge."
Speaking of swamps, President Barack Obama threw his Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsac, into one in an interview scheduled for broadcast on ABC's "Good Morning America" program this morning. According to Reuters, Obama said that Vilsak "jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles."
Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, me neither.
Wednesday, Vilsak's news conference was carried live by every cable news channel. That's the first time that an announcement by a Secretary of Agriculture has been carried live since 1983 when Mortimer and Randolph Duke were waiting for the orange crop forecast in "Trading Places."
This was supposed to have been a big week for the Obama Administration and Democrats generally. With the appointment of a temporary replacement for Senator Robert Byrd, the Ds had enough votes to pass an extension of unemployment benefits which was sent over to the House for agreement. The President staged a huge ceremony for the signing of the Financial Regulation bill. Then he signed the unemployment extension.
What will we remember of this week?
Shirley Sherrod being shafted by the Obama Administration and Charlie Rangle being, in essence, indicted by the House ethics committee.
Doesn't seem fair, somehow. Does it?