Charlie Rangel and Justice

On Thursday, the House of Representatives formally voted to censure one of its members—Charlie Rangel of New York. A censure has occurred only 23 times now in the history of the institution. It is the highest penalty that can be meted out other than expulsion. Rangel justly earned it.

Yet, given an opportunity to speak for one minute after the censure vote, Rangel used that minute to say he did nothing wrong, and chided the House for, in essence, abusing its authority and using him as a scapegoat. Others have done things far worse, he said. He never enriched himself by his actions, and besides, they were honest mistakes.

Rangel displayed no remorse; he wasn’t humbled by his experience. He is the epitome of congressional arrogance—people who have been in power so long [in his case, for forty years] that they somehow feel they are owed their position by the lowly minions who vote them into office.

That was bad enough, but when he stepped down, the Democrats in the House gave him a standing ovation. Frankly, it was sickening, and it was also a perfect picture of why they needed to be turned out of power in the last election. Now, will the Republicans hold to a higher standard?

Others who have done what Rangel did are in prison. That’s where he deserves to be as well. Although a censure was a stronger rebuke to him than a mere reprimand, he ought to have been expelled from the House. Justice was not done.