Why Charlie Rangel Is Hurting The Democrats

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 1, 2010

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A very good essay by Peter Beinart:

Independents are the most fickle, the most cynical, and the least ideological people in the American electorate. When they’re unhappy with the state of the country, they tend to stampede the party in power—less because they disagree on the issues than because they decide that the folks running government must be malevolent and corrupt. In Washington, congressmen violate ethics rules all the time. But when independents get in one of their sour moods, these infractions become matches on dry tinder. In 1994, the scandals concerning Rostenkowski and the House bank helped sweep the Gingrichites into power. In 2006, according to exit polls, the scandals surrounding mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Rep. Mark Foley did more to lose the GOP control of Congress than did the Iraq war. Pelosi became speaker, in fact, by running against the GOP’s “culture of corruption” and promising the “most ethical Congress in history.”

Now Republicans are hurling those phrases in her face. Democrats, who in April 2006 held a 17-point advantage as the party less “influenced by lobbyists and special interests,” have seen that margin dwindle to eight points, according to the Pew Research Center. The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has begun running ads against Democrats who accepted donations from Rangel, and two of the party’s most vulnerable congressmen, Alabama’s Bobby Bright and New Hampshire’s Paul Hodes, have called for Rangel to step down as chairman. Call them the canaries in the coal mine.

Makes you wonder why Nancy Pelosi is sticking with Rangel. At this point, of course, Republicans might not mind if she continues to.

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