Charlie Rangel is still smarting from the President’s comment that he should “end his career with dignity.” At a “debate” of Democrats challenging the embattled Rangel for the nomination in next month’s primary, the 40 year congressional veteran was continually attacked for the ethics violations he has been charged with, and insisting at the last minute that the “debate” be turned into a forum (meaning that the candidates could not address each other).
The biggest blows to Rangel were made by Adam Clayton Powell IV, whose dad was unseated by Rangel back in 1971. Powell said Rangel has lost his power and supporters in Washington, and now represented the corrupting power of money in politics.
“Four rent-controlled apartments. Four!” he yelled.
“It’s a slap in the face to his community!” Mr. Powell thundered.
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“In order to have good fruit you must have a healthy tree,” Powell said, paraphrasing the Book of Matthew. “We not longer have a healthy tree and we won’t have healthy fruit if this continues.”
Rangel lashed out at the President.
“My dignity is 80 years old,” he said. “How can somebody so much younger tell me how to leave with dignity?”
“Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is,” Mr. Rangel said of the 49-year-old Mr. Obama. “For the next two years, I will be more likely to protect his dignity.”
Just before the forum began the rules were changed, photography and videotaping of the forum was barred to ensuring that any heated moments or slip-ups by Mr. Rangel would not turn up later in a rival’s political ads. Additionally the format for the forum, originally called for all the candidates to stand on stage at once, putting them on equal footing. But at the last minute, the rules were changed Rangel would appear on his own, instead of sharing the podium with his challengers.
His rivals cried foul — Mr. Powell called it “the Democratic machine playing tricks” — but they relented.
It was a definitely a Rangel crowd, at one point, Jonathan Tasini, a candidate explained that Mr. Rangel had accepted large sums of money from political action committees. The crowd erupted in boos and jeers. That didn’t deter the candidate:
Mr. Tasini told the crowd that, despite Mr. Rangel’s best intentions, he had fallen victim to a culture in Washington that was awash with corporate money and lobbyists.
“The corruption that Congressman Rangel is a part of is being in Congress for 40 years,” Mr. Tasini said.
Rangel got hit hard, but the residents of his district still believe in the man who represented them for 40 years. As for Rangel it is clear that he will do anything even attack his party’s president to make sure he holds on to his seat. Rangel’s scandal and election calls out for term limits.