FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Draining The Swamp In Our Glorious People’s Democracy
Way back in Once-Upon-a-Time Time, Early November 2006 to be more explicit, Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer promised us all a New Direction. They all promised to seriously reform the House of Representatives, if the voters trusted them with control of that venerable institution. Pelosi declared with Oscar-Winning grandiloquence that yea, verily, they would drain the swamp. Who knew they would discover DDT and Kepone amongst the mire beneath the brackish flow?
The American electorate voted them in amongst promises of them running the most ethical Congress in history. This would occur under the steely, gimlet eye and steady gavel of Soon-to-be-Crowned House Speaker Pelosi. As the bong smoke now clears, and reality returns to the wretched early dawn of an unforgettable morning after, it appears increasingly obvious that only about ½ of the marshlands abutting the Potomac got cleared.
Nothing displays the utterly callous dishonesty of Nancy Pelosi’s politics in clearer bas-relief than the contrasting sagas of Congressman Massa and Congressman Rangel. Congressman Massa is now the poster child for Nancy Pelosi’s Photo-Op Ethical Puritanism. Charlie Rangel is on temporary vacation, until the sordid details get blown away like freshly-mowed grass in the wind. Eric Massa will no longer hold office. Rangel, upon his return, will still be the Good Time Charlie we all know and adore.
One of these two men has loyally voted President Obama’s preferred agenda during the entire first leg of his presidency. The other man balked at rubber-stamping the current health care reform package. One individual has used his chairmanship to deliver whatever laws were needed to set the desired White House economic policies into law. The other has literally had shouting matches with White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel in the shower. Which man is which should be obvious in light of the consequences each has suffered as a result of their behavior.
Congressman Massa has been put out to pasture for inappropriate sexual conduct towards one of his staff members. The alleged incident under investigation occurred at a wedding party that turned into something akin to the beer drink that occurs in the evening hours after a rugby match. The Politico offers Massa’s description of events.
“I said goodnight to the bridesmaid. I sat at down at the table where my whole staff was, all of them, by the way, bachelors. One of them looked at me and — as they would do after, I don’t know, 15 gin and tonics and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne — a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid. His points were clear, and his words were far more colorful than that.
“And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and I said, ‘What I really ought to be doing is frakking you,’ and then tossled the guy’s hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where I shouldn’t be there.”
“Was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely.” (HT: Tim Grieve)
It was immature, rakish, sophomoric and stupid. Actionable? Give me a break. When this first broke, I was hoping for something on the order of a decent Edward M. Kennedy waitress sandwich. Yet still, as of 5pm today, Congressman Massa will be forced into saying “No mas.”
Congressman Rangel, on the other hand, (perhaps the hand he uses when committing larceny) apparently lost Speaker Pelosi’s memorandum on good ethical conduct. He put it the same place he puts the IRS paperwork regarding his investment income. Something on the order of 50% of those types of papers seem to get lost in the Good Congressman’s filing system. At least that’s what he claims when some astonished CPA type pours over one of his tax returns.
Apparently, Congressman Rangel has rented out beach cottages down in The Caribbean for decades and only recently become aware that rental income earned abroad was a taxable category. He thought this category of income was covered by the Adam Clayton Powell Seat deduction. Peerage has its privileges.
This appears unseemly because it just happened to have occurred while he labored away as Chairman of The House Ways and Means Committee. You know them better as the dudes who write tax laws. It can’t be reassuring when the boss of this committee fills out a return that could earn him the nickname “H&R Blockhead.”
Maybe, during his hiatus, Congressman Rangel can talk to his property managers and figure out exactly where all those mysterious checks come from that mysteriously populate his money market accounts without his cognizance. We all hope he can learn from this experience and grow. He’ll unfortunately just grow more corrupt. He learn that as long as he has “President O’s” 6 O’ Clock, there is no statute of jurisprudence that he can possibly be found guilty of violating.
If you’ve read anything in the news for the past two years; you know well which man is still on the right side of Speaker Pelosi’s situational ethics machine. Congressman Massa, the benighted true believer he was, held out for nothing less than a health care reform bill that included a public option. He told his supporters he would do exactly that. The public option was not a choice on the menu in the House of Representatives Bill. Eric Massa, the idiot, kept his word and voted his “Neigh!”
Charlie Rangel, who has never authored a promise he couldn’t coin money on, remains submerged in the swamp. He waits for it all to just blow over. He waits for the cynics to knowingly nod. He’ll vote “Yeah,” and the boyoes will have his back.
Then Congressman Rangel can reenter the fray. He can tax us all into penury to pay for the health plan. He chug merrily along in consonant, amoral harmony with Nancy, Rahm and Steny Hoyer’s New Direction. A direction that Australian Rock band AC/DC would accurately describe as a Highway to Hell.