I wonder what Senator Trent Lott (R- MS, Former Senate Majority Leader) thinks of Representative Charlie Rangel's (D-NY, Chairman House Ways and Means Committee) problems? There is no dearth of irony in the comparing the low watermarks of both politician's careers, although there is a significant difference in the law if one is compelled to make the comparison.
Lott, the former Senate Majority Leader, was forced to resign his leadership position for making some ill considered and, according to his critics, racially insensitive remarks at a birthday party honoring the late Senator Strom Thurmond.
Lott was subjected to a media firestorm as moral highbrows like Al Gore demanded censure if Lott didn't apologize. Lott explained at length that his comments were not racist but the Congressional Black Caucus was unmoved:
" the Congressional Black Caucus, which has called for the Senate to censure Lott, issued a statement saying its position "has not changed with his statement today."
"It is offensive and morally reprehensible that a public official with such a record would be permitted by his party to serve as majority leader of the United States Senate," the CBC statement said.
Trent Lott resigned because he made a stupid comment at the birthday party of a former segregationist, which segregationist (Thurmond) finished a (long) career as a distinguished champion of minority rights. Trent Lott resigned his Majority Leader position in disgrace and experienced a political shunning that we conservatives should all remember. Trent Lott was denied his seniority position in the Senate because of a poor choice of words at Strom Thurmond's birthday party, a choice of words that sent the liberal Left into high dudgeon.
Fast forward six years and consider the circumstances of Charles Rangel, chairman of the most powerful committee on Capitol Hill.
Rangel, it bears noting, is no stranger to offensive racial jokes (I think he was joking). Speaking of President George W Bush he said:
"Well," Rangel said. "I really think that he shatters the myth of white supremacy once and for all; it shows that, in this great country, anybody can become president."
Never mind that Rangel gets a pass on that comment by both his party and the media elite because, in the game of Modern Political Racial Monopoly that consumes the attention and better judgment of the legacy media, the congressman holds a permanent Get Out of Jail Trouble Free card.
However, Congressman Rangel now finds himself in a problem far graver than an apparent gaffe at a former segregationist's birthday party. Why is it grave? Because the consequences extend well beyond the purview of the liberal elites that have covered his rear in the past.
Congressman Rangel is now suspected of:
"accusations on multiple fronts related to his rent-controlled apartments in New York, underreported rental income from property in the Dominican Republic and a tax exemption he helped preserve."
Serious accusations all but the real story here is that Rangel considers himself (according to proxies talking to The Hill) exempt from prosecution because of his intent:
"A close associate of Rangel said, "So long as Rangel believes he did nothing intentionally wrong or unethical -- and he doesn't [believe he did], nor do any of his close associates -- he will never, never voluntarily step aside from his chairmanship."
Ousting Rangel would be extremely difficult, House aides and lawmakers say.
"Everybody loves Charles Rangel. He gets along with people. He's a dealmaker," according to a former House Democratic staffer.
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said, "Charlie Rangel is one of the most approachable members of Congress, has a great personality and is in love with his job."
A plethora of tax lawyers may be willing and able to argue Mr. Rangel's intent, but color me a skeptic when I wonder how a Ways and Means Committee Chairman uses the concept of "intent" to defend a charge of not reporting income.
For that matter, why doesn't the Chairman of Ways and Means agree to have his/her tax returns completed by the IRS? That's a Sarbanes Oxley sort of solution isn't it? Make Congress eat its own cooking.
The unspoken truth is that if Charlie Rangel was a white, conservative Republican his Democrat colleagues and the usual suspects in the media would not be satisfied with his resignation from Ways and Means, nor his apology. They would demand his prosecution for alleged felonies.
Where is the New Pelosi Congress when it counts?