735 Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues
"Some gotta win, some gotta lose.
"Good time Charlie's got the blues."
--Pop singer Danny O'Keefe
This is the third pass in this space at U.S. Representative Charles B. Rangel, 80, who probably would get re-elected in his 15th Congressional District of New York, Harlem, until he's 110 years old. But maybe this is the time to call it a day. You know from reading it here that his constituents practically strew rose petals on the ground where he walks, or drives that mammoth and expensive Cadillac. You know that until recently he was chairman of the tax-writing House Ways Committee. One of New York's top political figures, and, if the charges are right, one of the most crooked.
Undeclared income, favors to and from this guy and that, rent controlled space he apparently shouldn't have been entitled to, a house in the Dominican Republic which he rented out, then allegedly failed to report the income.
Almost anywhere else, stuff like this would have the people up in arms. Not with Charlie. He brings home the bacon -- gets the idea that you have to produce for the district and does so. Not that there aren't people up in arms, just not the people who you might expect. Rivals like Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the late (and crooked) Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. are boiling mad and salivating about a possible November win. The Democratic leadership of the House is in a significant snit. And the right wing is having a field day.
Not the people of the district. They're still collecting rose petals in case Charlie strolls their part of the 'hood.
They going to lock this guy up? Unlikely. Is he going to run for re-election? The jury in THAT case is out. Some say he will, some say he'll quit, maybe by the time you read this.
He's raised all the usual cliches about clearing his name and fighting the good fight and all that. You'd expect that from a guy like this. So the question is, does this old war horse have it in him to overcome this with the people who don't count but are making the fuss? Maybe. Is it worth the effort to "clear" his name? Probably. But even if cleared, the stink sticks.
Charles B. Rangel is a good Congressman. And a good human being. And smart. And a war hero. And a snazzy dresser. He's strong and vigorous, has all his marbles, and apparently is in good health. But he is 80 and he has served his districts for 40 years. And maybe, just maybe, that's long enough. There are worse violators of the ethics rules in Congress. There are representatives whose stands have endangered lives and income. There are those who've done Charliesque things and who haven't yet been brought and may never be brought to political death row. But...
Some gotta win, some gotta lose.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®