Is Charles Rangel Hurting Democrats?

A vote to oust the representative fails, and commentators wonder whether this is providing too much theater for the 2010 elections

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On Wednesday, a vote to oust Democratic New York Representative Charles Rangel from his position as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee failed, splitting largely along party lines. The ethics investigation against the representative is old news, but Carl Hulse at the New York Times points out that Republicans "believe that it can help them create an image of Democratic ethical problems in the run-up to the 2010 mid-term elections." Is Rangel becoming a serious problem for his party, or is this just a preview of the usual election-year politicking? Here are two columnists' and two bloggers' perspectives, from both the left and the right:

  • Well, I Want Him Gone The New York Times' Gail Collins may be speaking in general terms, instead of for the Democratic Party, but says that "Whenever a powerful committee chairman has so many problems that you need a timeline to keep all the allegations straight, he is a liability."
  • Votes Against Rangel Good Publicity It really doesn't matter, argues Gail Russel Chaddock at the Christian Science Monitor, if the votes to remove Rangel from his position on the Ways and Means Committee fail. "[T]he significance of the move was not captured by the vote count. It was aimed to score political points by keeping corruption allegations against the majority party squarely in sight." House Republicans maintain Democratic support for Rangel "will cost [the Democrats] in the midterm elections," Chaddock writes, and "still smarting from the move by Democrats to vote a resolution of disapproval of Rep. Joe Wilson (R)," they have "demanded that the resolution against Rangel be read on the floor ... twice."
  • "Poster Boy for Corruption" in 2010, declares Jennifer Rubin at the conservative Commentary magazine--sort of like "Tom Delay was in 2006 and Dan Rostenkowski was in 1994." Plus, she points out, "[c]orruption ... has been moving up on the list of voters' concerns. According to Rasmussen, more people rank corruption as an important issue than they do the economy or health care," and the topic is a a "common theme" in "'wave' elections," she says, "provid[ing] added motivation to 'throw the bums out.'"
  • Great Television, acknowleledges John Cole at liberal blog Balloon Juice. "These are the kinds of things that make really good election year commercials all over the country. Culture of corruption, anyone?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.