For two years, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has fought, clawed and scratched to get out from under the ethics allegations against him. He’s tried to delegitimize the Ethics Committee, its investigation and its proceedings. You can understand the ire expressed by the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), in his remarks today before the committee took up what sanctions to impose on Rangel — while acknowledging the committee’s Republicans aren’t too torn up about watching a Democrat self-immolate.
Rangel has made a clown of himself as he’s defended himself against the ethics violations. A couple of days ago, right after Rangel took his buffoonery to new heights by walking out of the Ethics Committee proceedings against him, I said that Rangel’s lack of repentance and open thumbing of his nose at the committee warranted a harsher response than the violations he committed might usually merit. But this afternoon, finally, Rangel threw himself at the mercy of the committee.
In tears, and broken if not beaten, Rangel apologized directly to the committee for “any awkwardness I caused you.” He then slumped in his chair, head bowed, in full view of CSPAN’s cameras. I’m not sure if it’s too little too late, but it softened me a bit.
You can never know if the change of heart is sincere, or merely adapting to make the best of a bad situation (remember, he was facing almost certain sanctions). I also don’t know all the details about what the committee has had to put up with from Rangel. I would imagine it’s been pretty ugly behind the scenes. One day of humility from Rangel may not be enough to make up for two years of bombast. But if you were looking for some remorse from Charlie Rangel, as I was, you got to see some today … at long last.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.