I personally like old Charlie Rangel, the penultimate
Harlem pol, duded out in pin striped suits complete with flashy ties and matching pocket hankies. It’s just too bad that today’s sartorial rules will not allow him to sport white linen spats, you know those things that go over your shoes, and saunter down the House of Representatives’ aisle with a gold headed ebony cane in hand. That would wake up that bunch of hack politicians. While I have always liked his style, I detest, despise and deplore his sleaze. I shed no tears for old Charlie.
Old Charlie’s demise and fall has been eulogized and praised by none other than Washington Post’s David Broder, the so called “dean” of the Washington press corps. He calls him sadly, and without an iota of irony, one of the “Happy Warriors Brought Low”. You may like old Charlie like I do, but you can’t condone his depredations and hand him a get out of jail Monopoly card, all the while praising the way he played “the game”, or rather the way he gamed the play.
Old Charlie claims that “he did not go to bed with kids” and that “he did not start a revolution against the
”. Way to go Charlie, after all you have just been a Representative for 40 years. But when he claims that he “did not steal any money” and that he “did not take any bribes”, that’s where I draw the line. United States of America
Old Charlie was given the use of at least three rent stabilized apartments, those almost impossible to find rent abated havens, in
by his landlord. That was either income or a reportable benefit, depending on how you look at it. He also failed to report rental income on a New York City villa while serving as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the guys who write tax legislation for you and me. He solicited donations for an educational center bearing his name from corporations that had business before his Committee. Was he to benefit upon his retirement just like Ronald Regan with his outrageous speaking honoraria in Japan? Now we have a new ethics probe, his misuse of some $400,000 in campaign funds for legal defense. All of the above should have landed him in jail. Censure was but a gentle reprimand, a “do go gently into that good night” goodbye from his fellow representatives, to their everlasting shame. Dominican Republic
Old Charlie shed copious crocodile tears in the well of the House, so much so that I feared that he would just float away. I also liked his predecessor, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Now old Adam really had class. While the House was voting to expel him did old Adam shed crocodile tears? No. He was smiling the day away on a cabin cruiser near Bimini, the Bahamas, enjoying the rays, a drink and cigar in hand, surrounded by bikini clad lovelies, all but saying “Do what you want, you dumb white honkies!” Now that took balls and class. I met old Adam, Charlie, and you ain’t no Adam! He never shed a false tear or offered a lame excuse, No Siree, Bob!