Commentary Magazine


Contentions

But Not Permanently

Rep. Charlie Rangel succumbed to reality — sort of:

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he would temporarily step down as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, days after being admonished for breaking House rules by accepting corporate-financed travel. . . Rangel did not state clearly Wednesday whether he was seeking to leave the committee altogether while the inquiry is ongoing, or simply to vacate the chairmanship. Nor did he discuss who would replace him. He said he had previously offered to take a leave of absence because of the controversy, and implied that Pelosi had not accepted that offer.

Just temporarily? Well, one supposes that if House Democrats dodge a bullet in November, he will reclaim his chairmanship. That seems to be the game here. You can expect the Republicans to bring that up. Moreover, the House ethics committee isn’t yet done with Rangel. (“The ethics committee has not yet said when it will issue rulings on these other controversies, but they could result in stronger admonishments that would make it difficult for Democrats to put Rangel back in as the chairman.”)

What we learn from this is that Pelosi is not leading her caucus, but rather is racing to keep up and restrain, in some instances, her nervous members. They seem to have figured out that she has a safe seat but they do not. It took a mutiny of disgusted House Democrats to get her to dump her ally Rangel. It will take a similar display of self-preservation instincts by Democrats to save themselves from the real danger — the jam-through of ObamaCare. Pelosi isn’t going to be looking out for them; so members will have to assess their own districts and decide whether, as they did with Rangel, they should dump ObamaCare and save themselves.


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