If you haven’t caught Rep. Charlie Rangel’s rambling rant–the one where he went the full Traficant–you really should. In it Rangel declares that ethical woes are based on a series of misunderstandings. He just grabbed the wrong letterhead when writing funding appeals to potential corporate donors to his eponymous educational monument. He had a crummy tax lawyer who screwed up his Dominican villa filings and his financial disclosure documents. And “corruption?!?!” Well, Rangel thinks that there is no evidence that he did anything corrupt.
Even if we were to believe that all of this is really just a big misunderstanding and Rangel just made a series of unfortunate mistakes over the past, oh, twenty years or so, it would simply show that Rangel is a congressman who simply doesn’t take matters of ethics seriously. No one who, even for a moment, thought about appearances of unethical or untoward behavior would ever send out funding appeals for pet projects to corporate CEOs with business before their committee on congressional letterhead. No matter which way you cut it, this argument leads you to the same conclusion that the ethics committee reached: Rangel doesn’t give a damn about congressional ethics.
Rangel also believes, based on unfounded allegations, that this is “the first time that it appears as though partisanship has entered the ethics committee.” Now that is just daft. Over the course of its existence the entire ethics process has been political and partisan. There are so many examples, from the variety of scandals the committee never took on, to the ethics stalemate between the parties, Tom DeLay’s committee purge, the appointment of Charlie Wilson to the ethics subcommittee investigating John Murtha in the Abscam scandal and so on and so on. To accuse the committee now of operating out of partisanship or political considerations for the first time is patently ludicrous.
This whole episode just gets more bizarre. Beam me up.