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    Saturday Night Card Game (Charlie Rangel’s “Get Out of Jail Free” Card)

    Saturday Night Card Game (Charlie Rangel’s “Get Out of Jail Free” Card)

    This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:

    New York Congressman Charles Rangel was found guilty by a House Ethics panel on 11 0f 13 ethics charges, including submitting false and incomplete financial statements, and violating the Internal Revenue Code.

    Congressman John Lewis gave a speech on behalf of Rangel.  Lewis prefaced his comments with the limitation that Lewis did not know anything about the facts of Rangel’s conduct.  Lewis nonetheless defended Rangel based in part on Rangel’s actions in marching in the civil rights movement in the 1960s:


    People who marched in the civil rights movement in difficult circumstances in the 1960s deserve credit for that action, but it is not an excuse for chicanery or ethics violations several decades later.

    Juan Williams, while guest-hosting The O’Reilly Factor last night, argued that Lewis unnecessarily injected race into the debate:

    Lewis certainly was seeking to invoke civil rights era actions by Rangel as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for events completely unrelated. We have seen this time and again with Jesse Jackson.

    But was this the “race card”?  I guess it depends upon what the meaning of “race card” is.

    While we don’t know the impact of Lewis’ comments, Rangel certainly did get off easy, with a censure and a requirement that he make “restitution.”

    Which I guess means Rangel needs to pay back taxes.  He can get the form from Tim Geithner.

    Related Posts:
    Juan Williams Was Fox News’ “Lawn Jockey”
    Do Unto Taxpayers As Geithner Had Done Unto Him
    Will Someone Tell Tim Geithner To Answer The Phone

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    No one can accuse Allen West of fearing to walk into the breach. I am very interested to follow his term in the mad house.

    Forgetting the race aspect for the moment, I find it highly ironic that the argument put forth by Rangel in effect is that he didn't realize he was contravening the law.

    So we have a professional politician and Chair of the Ways and Means Committee who can not understand the tax laws, but Joe Plumber is expected to, even while he gives upward of 40% of his earnings to local and federal government. Good lord.

    This was a pretty minimal expression of support for Charlie ("I don't know the facts in this case but Rangel is a nice guy anda hard-working public servant"). It's almost backhanded, given the deep doo doo Rangel is in, so I wouldn't make too much of it.

    Mentioning Rangel's trip to the Selma-Montgomery march in the context of, in effect, reviewing his early bio ("fought in Korea, got an education…") isn't much of an endorsement from someone like Lewis either. Lewis was one of the leaders of the first attempted march on March 7, 1965 when he got his head beaten in by Alabama troopers and his band of 600 marchers were dispersed. The second march was aborted and the third began on March 21, 1965 with 8,000 people stepping off from Selma to march on Montgomery. They were by then protected by federal court orders backed by 4,000 federal troops and hundreds of FBI agents and US Marshals. At its high point in Montgomery, the march crowd reached about 25,000 and included a battalion of celebrities (eg, Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis), local pols like Rangel, religious leaders. It was still no picnic since no one could ever forecast what some of the segregationist crowds might do (or the Klan) but honestly, it was not as if Charlie Rangel had been knocking on doors in the rural south trying to register voters.

    Again, coming from someone like Lewis who spent 10 years risking his life while Charlie was building his law practice and maneuvering for district leaders' support inside Tammany Hall, it's a very, very tepid use of the "race card."

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