Monday, August 02, 2010

Going To Bat For Charlie Rangel

Corrupt Democratic Congressman from Harlem Charles Rangel has come under increasing pressure from various Democrats in Congress since the House Ethics Panel listed 13 charges against him that could possibly lead to his expulsion from Congress. Over the weekend, President Barack Obama weighed in and suggested Rangel resign to avoid taking down his fellow Democrats in tight races in the 2010 midterm elections. Why is New York Governor David Paterson going to bat for Rangel?
Paterson, appearing on Kiss- FM's "The Open Line," said it's wrong to call on someone to step aside who has chosen to fight to clear his name.

The governor did not refer specifically to Obama, who said on Friday that the hopes Rangel ends his career "with dignity."

But New York's first black governor said he is "especially surprised when people from our own community do it because we've been the greatest victim of it for centuries."

It was only last fall when a top Obama aide told a beleaguered Paterson that the White House preferred he not run for election this year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a loyal friend of the 80-year-old Rangel, was also kinder in her words than Obama, who repeatedly referred to Rangel in the past tense.

"Any personal respect and affection we may have for people makes us sad about the course of events," she said on ABC's "This Week."

But Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House had to adhere to high standards. "When I came in, we said we'll drain the swamp. And we did," Pelosi said after a week that saw the venerable Harlem Democrat nailed by 13 charges of ethics violations and California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters headed for an ethics trial of her own.
Here's the missing context from Gov. David Paterson's attempts to back embattled corrupt Democrat Charles Rangel.

So, why is Paterson coming out to defend Rangel?

It goes back to the Harlem Gang of Four. The four Harlem politicians, former Mayor David Dinkins, Basil Paterson (David's father), Rangel, and former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, wielded tremendous power in Manhattan politics and their shadow continues to loom large. This is little more than calling in a favor for a fellow member of the elite group.

Rangel bristles at any calls for his resignation and he's quite secure in the belief that his constituents will send him back to Congress (and I think he's right to think so given the way that they voted for him in 2008 when the tax evasion and other legal and ethics woes were first uncovered).

At the same time, it's laughable for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to talk about draining the swamp of corruption when she refused to raise her hand against Rangel's corruption in 2008 on the eve of national elections that swept Obama into the White House. She refused to move against Rangel as the tax evasion charges piled up or any of the other ethics charges lest she incur the wrath of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. Hers is not a profile in courage, but rather political expediency. She's protected the corrupt Democrats for years - and it's only the overwhelming stench of that corruption that has forced her hand while she's trying to do all she can to retain the majority in the House. Moving against Rangel now is one of the few ways in which she thinks she can retain the House.

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