On November 16, 2006, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared, “This leadership will create the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”
A prominent member of her caucus, Representative Charlie Rangel of New York, aggressively sold his political influence for money. He abused government resources, including House personnel and free postal privileges, to solicit campaign donations. He cheated on his taxes, failing to report some of his income. He filed “incomplete and inaccurate” financial disclosures.
Yesterday, December 2, 2010, after ethics hearings that lasted years and cost our heavily indebted government considerable amounts of time and money, the House of Representatives voted 333-79 to censure Rangel. Rangel expressed his contempt for these hearings by walking out of them. How much jail time will this felon receive? None at all. “Censure” means he just has to stand there and listen while the House expresses its displeasure. Even this ridiculously mild “penalty” was too much for 146 of his colleagues, who wanted to downgrade it to a quiet reprimand… a punishment last deployed against Republican Joe Wilson of South Carolina, for the crime of rudely calling President Obama a liar during a speech to Congress.
The Democrats then gave Rangel a standing ovation, causing numerous Republican campaign consultants to think about using the footage during the 2012 elections, and faint dead away.
The 111th Congress was far from “the most honest, most open, and most ethical” in history. House Democrats proved it by openly applauding the concept of a ruling class completely above the law, able to break both House rules and federal tax law with impunity. Their applause was a frank declaration of war by the Democrat Party against the law-abiding American citizen. The only penalty Rangel ever faced was a tiny measure of humiliation. The standing ovation was an attempt to erase even that.
Rangel and some of his defenders characterized his tax cheating as a “mistake,” thus assuming their listeners are complete imbeciles. Rangel chaired the panel that writes tax laws. He under-reported his income by hundreds of thousands of dollars for a decade. He was eventually compelled to pay federal and state treasuries $16,000 in back taxes, with absolutely no penalty or interest. Republican John Carter of Texas introduced a bill called the “Rangel Rule” to extend this penalty-free privilege to all taxpayers in 2009, but of course it went nowhere.
Charlie Rangel is a tireless advocate for raising everyone else’s taxes. The government he supports must ensure compliance by annihilating any private citizen who commits similar misdeeds. Taxation is compulsion, and compulsion cannot succeed when delivered as a polite request. The ruling class applauds a demonstration of its ability to live above the world it creates.
Rangel’s defenders, sadly including a number of Republicans, cite his Korean War military service as a reason to excuse his crimes. Rangel himself loudly makes this argument at every opportunity, He did it again during the House procedure yesterday, as well as once again violating House rules by shamelessly using photos of fallen veterans from New York City next to the door of his office as political props.
This is the most breathtaking endorsement of utter tyranny to foul American discourse in recent memory. No past action conveys immunity from legal consequence. Every President of this republic serves in the shadow of George Washington, a man who refused a throne in reward for his valiant military service. To offer one’s war record as a license to break the law is a shameful insult to every American veteran. They do not serve, and sacrifice, to win membership in a royal elite, or protect its privileges.
Anyone who would accept such an argument in Rangel’s defense is utterly disqualified from serving in public office. The Democrat Party disqualified itself en masse last night. The terms of their declaration of war against the American citizen are clear: absolute control over your life, absolute immunity from the law for themselves. Nothing less than their total defeat will restore a semblance of ethical government to the United States. Charlie Rangel comes from a completely safe seat – he isn’t going away until he chooses to retire. There is nothing the people of this country can do to punish him for his crimes… except make him very lonely.