Charlie Rangel gets to hear his fate today from the congressional ethics panel and his many fans are weighing in on his behalf.
After meeting with the state’s congressional delegation, Governor Paterson last night (make that late last night — 10:29 PM) released a statement praising Harlem’s embattled lion, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and calling both the process and charges “unfair”:
“Congressman Charlie Rangel has served the people of New York with distinction for 40 years. He is a Korean War hero and a longtime friend – both to me and to the people of this great State. As he has noted, Congressman Rangel has been motivated throughout these decades solely by a desire to serve. And he has acted with the best intentions at the heart of his service to the people of New York.
“I sincerely hope that as it completes its proceedings on this matter, the Ethics Committee ensures that political expediency does not interfere with the carriage of justice. I stand in support of Congressman Rangel today and in the future and wish him well throughout this difficult process, a process that has been as unfair as the charges against him.”
News veteran Gabe Pressman of NBC, is also a longtime admirer and received an invitation to donate to Rangel’s City College institute as revealed by the thousands of pages released by the committee this week, says he’s also struck by “the rush to judgment” in Congress:
“So are we wrecking a career of 50 years on the basis of his sloppiness? Should the charge be sloppiness in the first degree or what? I don’t mean to excuse any of the offenses of which the congressman is accused. But it seems to me, from my knowledge of Mr. Rangel, that in creating a school of public service at City College bearing his name he may have committed the sin of pride. The Congress has 535 members I would bet that there are 534 besides Rangel who share the same sin.”
The entire Rangel episode has been oddly paralleling that of the man he unseated back in 1970, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., as the Times’ Sam Roberts pointed out this week. If Rangel is checking the history books for ideas on how to fight, he should steal another great one from Powell, one that had such a ring to it that it became one of the great street salutes of all time. The Reverend Powell even cut an LP on it: “Keep the faith, baby!”