"The Most Ethical Congress In History"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 2, 2009

If we had a press corps dedicated to doing its job and doing it right, it would be asking Nancy Pelosi why she is now going back on her promise to bring about an ethical renaissance on Capitol Hill. After all, one cannot bring about an ethical renaissance while at the same time allowing Charlie Rangel to keep his chairmanship.

The excuse given to try to ameliorate the effects of a patently inexcusable administrative decision on the Speaker’s part is that if Rangel were forced to give up his chairmanship during an ethics investigation, it would constitute interference with the Ethics Committee’s work. Not to put too fine a point on it, but balderdash. There is no reason whatsoever why Rangel could not retake his chairmanship in the event that he is cleared of charges by the Ethics Committee. But while he is being investigated, he should not be placed in charge of any committee, let alone one as powerful as the House Ways and Means Committee. The reality of the situation, as the Hill story indicates, is that Rangel is staying put because his potential successors as chairman are no great shakes. In short, naked political motivations underline Rangel’s ability to keep the gavel.

Would Nancy Pelosi or any other Democrat be as indulgent if a Republican Speaker allowed someone as ethically challenged as Charlie Rangel to remain chairman of a powerful committee while the Ethics Committee was investigating that chairman? The question answers itself, does it not? Isn’t it time for the media to pounce on that hypocrisy, as well as on the general failure of Pelosi & Co. to bring about anything resembling laudable ethics reform on the Hill?

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