TPM Reader DF has a different take on Charlie Rangel’s decision to represent himself in the Ethics Committee proceeding:
I know the adage, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client,” is true for a reason, but this is as much political theater as it is a hearing.
Rangel has been on the giving end of enough Congressional hearings to know what to expect, and there is political advantage to be gained by not “hiding behind a high-priced lawyer.”
If he expects to regain anything close to his former levels of power, he must not merely be excused by legal maneuvers, but he must be vindicated as man who stood wrongly accused. By defending himself, he gets to deliver the words, and the quotes are his.
I’m not saying it’s going to work, but really, it’s not like he’s going to go to jail if he gets pillared in the hearing - just dismissed from Congress or moved to the back bench.
DF is right about the politics of this having primacy over the legal end of it. I still think Rangel would be much better served having lawyers handling the legal end even as they work the political end. But regardless I think you saw this morning that Charlie is determined to turn the proceeding into a spectacle, and I’m not sure the committee was entirely prepared for that.
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.