In Rangel case, Democrats face unsavory choices

Representative faces ethics charges

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“Hell no,” he replied.

On Capitol Hill Friday, several knowledgeable Democrats said any strategic planning had effectively been placed on hold until it became clear whether Rangel could avoid a public trial by striking a deal — or resigning.

Absent that, the choices for Democratic leaders were stark:

Option one: Urge him to cut the proceedings short by admitting guilt to some charges and/or resigning from the House. This would kick up a storm of unrest especially from the Congressional Black Caucus, which Rangel helped found.

Option two: Sit back and watch the New York Democrat’s trial unfold, hope that voters aren’t as incensed by Rangel’s fundraising practices and his failure to pay taxes as they were over Foley’s come-ons to former male pages. And get some defense ready for the Republican charges of hypocrisy and failure to “drain the swamp” of corruption as Democrats vowed four years ago.

At the very least, majority Democrats are getting a taste of what it’s like to manage a transcendent scandal in the shadow of an election.

Four years ago, then-Speaker Dennis Hastert and other top Republicans were besieged daily by reporters demanding to know why Foley’s conduct was allowed to go on for years.

Then, it was Democrats running the negative ads. And, while all the Republicans wanted Foley to quit, his resignation didn’t stop the bleeding. The cover up became the story. Then came the election. Republicans lost the House.

 

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