Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee Charlie Rangel has decided to play the race card. To be fair Charlie Rangel is not doing so on his own behalf, but rather on behalf of President Barack Obama and health care reform.
According to the New York Post, “Rep. Charles Rangel said Tuesday that ‘bias’ and ‘prejudice’ toward Obama are fueling opposition to health-care reform.” Charlie Rangel went on to equate the drive for health care reform to the struggle for civil rights, implying perhaps that opponents of health care reform were the equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists who opposed civil rights. “Why do we have to wait for the right to vote? Why can’t we get what God has given us? That is the right to live as human beings and not negotiate with white southerners and not count the votes. Just do the right thing.”
Charlie Rangel himself has become mired in a number of financial scandals and is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. The Washington Post, not a bastion of right wing thought, has twice called upon Charlie Rangel to resign his Chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demurred, suggesting that Charlie Rangel will remain Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee as long as the Ethics Committee is conducting its investigation.
Another wrinkle in Charlie Rangel’s various entanglements was revealed when it was discovered that among the many members of the House whom Charlie Rangel has contributed money to are three of the five members of the House Ethics Committee that is investigating Charlie Rangel’s various tax and financial scandals.
It is the natural impulse of the House leadership to try to protect a powerful Committee chairman whose support is needed to pass health care reform, now the most contentious issue in the past decade. However there may come a point that Charlie Rangel’s continuing to be the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, not to mention a member of the House, will become a liability not only to health care reform but to House Democrats in general.
It’s not as if the Democrats need any more liabilities. Right now the Democrats are in a tough spot. The only thing that will be worse for them than not passing health care reform will be passing it. The House Democrats and President Obama are about to get into a fight over the public option, which the President appears to be ready to drop.
In the midst of all this, having Charlie Rangel around hurtling racially charged accusations while wallowing in a mire of tax and financial scandal is the last thing that the Democrats need.
Sources: Charlie Ups The Race-Card Ante, Carl Campanile, New York Post, September 3rd, 2009
Charlie Rangel’s Financial and Tax Scandals, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 1st, 2009
Sorry Charlie, The Washington Post, September 3rd, 2009