The last time I wrote about Charlie Rangel (D-NY), he was standing in the bowels of Congress shedding tears as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) read House Resolution 1737, which resolved he be censured.
Censure was his penalty for cheating the U.S. tax code which, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — and prior to that, as the ranking minority member — he had helped write. From the wailing and gnashing of teeth taking place that day, one would have thought that Rangel was actually receiving a penalty commensurate with the crimes he had committed. In the end, the punishment for his crimes was to have a 91-word paragraph read to him, out loud, before the House of Representatives.
But alas, like every good politician, Charlie quickly recovered and was back in with the mainstream media and hobnobbing in elite public circles. Behind him were the concerns that an average person would have had if Congress found them guilty of hiding income and assets, among other crimes.
Today, Rangel is busy doing whatever it is he does in Congress: attacking Republicans, attending O’Jays concerts, and giving awards to Dionne Warwick. He is also receiving his own awards — not for being a truthful, honest, diligent representative of the people — but for his support of national parks. Rangel received the “Friends of the National Parks Award” from the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) in mid-July.
On the surface, this may seem like no big deal, but I submit it is a darn big deal. Rangel has represented New York’s 15th Congressional District — which includes Harlem, Spanish Harlem, and Washington Heights — since 1971. He is the third longest serving congressman in the House, and yet today, to hear him and his constituency tell it, they’re no better off. They’re still plagued by racism, poverty, unemployment, poorly performing schools, drugs, and crime — every day.
So Rangel is getting an award from the NPCA, having been scored 91.63 percent for his national parks voting record in the 111th Congress.
Call me suspicious, call me jaded, but if I know that I’m going to receive $100 for walking home the same way every day, do you think I won’t walk that way unless I’m offered a greater incentive for walking another way?
The award was based on Rangel’s voting record on one dozen national park-related bills, with awardees voting “correctly” on at least seven of them. Overall, the bills had to do with keeping firearms out of national parks, open space under the guise of land preservation, the cleaning of monuments, and an omnibus public land management act.
When he received the award, Rangel said: “I always thought children and their future were our country’s greatest treasures.” My understanding is he went to Congress to do what was best for the people, not what was best for those with deep pockets, who would restrict the use of public property.
Rangel also spoke of “teaching the American people the significance of our history.” Really? I thought the idea of teaching Americans the significance of “our history” was to do it in a truthful and accurate way. Not the distorted, revisionist rendering of history that leads to amyotrophy of the mind.
The question that begs an answer is this: When will the public realize that the Rangels of the political world are not in office to help the people as such, unless it doubly helps the politician? The Rangels of the political world are only there for ordinary people if it makes them look good and/or makes an opponent look bad.
The majority of people in Rangel’s district cannot begin to pay for the kinds of favors that lobbyists and special interest groups can. So it stands to reason that he would use his ill-gotten gains to wine and dine with those who visited his Caribbean resort home, or favor in other ways those who had the means to contribute to his Rangel Center.
Sadly, while Rangel basks in the light of his award — he speaks about how terrible Republicans and Tea Party people are for preventing Obama from creating jobs.