Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week in review: Last word on Charlie Rangel censure

"Hey Bill, how do I get out of this one?"

Charlie Rangel being censured rather than reprimanded is akin to the old phrase of "you say tomato and I say tomato, you say potato and I say potato."

You get what I mean. Censure or reprimand? What difference does it make in the scheme of things when neither is really a punishment? I know the drill that this censure tarnishes what has been referred to as a stellar and otherwise squeaky clean career. That it's an unnecessary and unwarranted embarrassment. The argument that for all of the good that Rangel has supposedly done this is an unfair attack and that others have done worse and escaped unscathed.

The good he has done?

He has, I am sure, done much for his constituents. What he has done for the broader nation I am not really sure.

But, in the same way that President Clinton legitimized certain types of sexual behavior for a generation through his actions and testimony during his impeachment process, men such as the former chairman of the tax-code writing House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Rangel and now Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have legitimized tax evasion with seemingly no consequences in front of the American public.

There is of course one glaring difference between the American public and Mssrs. Rangel and Geithner. The public servants wipe it all out with an I'm sorry, I don't know how it happened and here is a check. You or I would be hounded by the IRS to our graves while facing severe consequences.

Reprimand or censure? Does it really matter?

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