Caption This: Charlie Rangel [The Tax Cheat] Edition

Y’all are gonna love this one:

Rangel relaxes
Rangel naps at his 'tax-free' Dominican Republic hideaway. Photo via Splash News/Daily Beast

It comes from a piece published at the Daily Beast and written by Peter Beinart on how Nancy “Drain the Swamp” Pelosi’s standing by Rangel the tax cheat in light of the House Ethics Committee’s finding that he broke House gift rules could come back to haunt both her and her party come fall:

Charles Rangel would make the all-Madden team, too. The son of a maid, he went to work at age 8, won a Purple Heart in Korea, and rose through the Harlem Democratic machine. Since entering Congress, he has spoken blunt truths: declaring that if congressmen’s sons served in uniform, America would never have gone to war in Iraq. He has taken care of the little guy, assiduously bringing home federal bucks to his impoverished district. And in the [disgraced former Dem House rep Dan] Rostenkowski tradition, Rangel has taken care of himself as well, using rent-controlled apartments given to him by a Manhattan developer,and failing to pay income tax on a three-bedroom villa in the Dominican Republic (where he’s been pictured napping).

To understand why the Rangel scandals are so dangerous for Democrats, you need to understand something about midterm landslides: They’re usually composed of three parts. First, the other party’s activists are highly motivated. Second, your own activists are highly unmotivated. Third, independents want to burn Washington to the ground.

There’s nothing Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi can do about the first problem. The stimulus, the bank bailouts, the auto-takeover and the health-care push have convinced large numbers of aging white people that Obama is Mao Zedong, and they’re not going to change their mind anytime soon. The best response to the second problem is to pass health-care reform and give Keith Olbermann something to get excited about. But perhaps most crucial of all is responding to problem No. 3.

Independents are the most fickle, the most cynical, and the least ideological people in the American electorate. When they’re unhappy with the state of the country, they tend to stampede the party in power—less because they disagree on the issues than because they decide that the folks running government must be malevolent and corrupt. In Washington, congressmen violate ethics rules all the time. But when independents get in one of their sour moods, these infractions become matches on dry tinder. In 1994, the scandals concerning Rostenkowski and the House bank helped sweep the Gingrichites into power. In 2006, according to exit polls, the scandals surrounding mega-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Rep. Mark Foley did more to lose the GOP control of Congress than did the Iraq war. Pelosi became speaker, in fact, by running against the GOP’s “culture of corruption” and promising the “most ethical Congress in history.”

Now Republicans are hurling those phrases in her face. Democrats, who in April 2006 held a 17-point advantage as the party less “influenced by lobbyists and special interests,” have seen that margin dwindle to eight points, according to the Pew Research Center. The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has begun running ads against Democrats who accepted donations from Rangel, and two of the party’s most vulnerable congressmen, Alabama’s Bobby Bright and New Hampshire’s Paul Hodes, have called for Rangel to step down as chairman. Call them the canaries in the coal mine.

For more on the GOP’s efforts at stripping Rangel of his HWMC chairmanship, we turn to Politico:

House Republicans will move again on Tuesday to strip Rep. Charlie Rangel of his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee — and after last week’s admonishment of the veteran New York lawmaker by the House ethics committee, Republicans are confident that they will be pick up more Democratic votes.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) will introduce a privileged resolution Tuesday on Rangel, according to John Stone, his spokesman.

Carter is hoping for a vote on the measure by Wednesday, Stone said.

A new wrinkle in the GOP resolution will be a call for Rangel to release his tax returns.

Carter came under criticism last year when it was revealed that he failed to report several hundred thousand dollars in profits from stock sales on his annual financial-disclosure forms filed with the House Clerk’s office.

But Stone said Carter remains a viable spokesman for Republicans on the Rangel issue despite his own lapses on disclosure.

Carter and other top Republicans attempted several times last year to strip Rangel of the Ways and Means gavel, but Democrats always stood united in defeating the GOP effort. Mississippi Reps. Gene Taylor and Travis Childers were the only House Democrats to support Carter’s last Rangel resolution.

But with Rangel now publicly admonished by the ethics committee for taking two corporate-funded trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008, several other Democrats have now come out in favor of removing him, and GOP leaders are hoping to force more Democrats to come out against him.

Hmmm. Wonder how long it will be before the inevitable cries of “raaaacism” fill the air over the GOP’s latest attempts to get the gavel taken away from Rangel? Rangel himself isn’t above playing the race card; will it be him – or one of his cohorts in the House?

Last but not least, a “Real Members of Congress” parody video featuring Charlie Rangel (via Ed Driscoll):


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