I'm not ignoring the Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters stories, and I think this Joe Klein column provides a decent enough overview, but I think Joe neglects one aspect:
At the end of the day, black districts are poorer districts, and any Congressperson who brings home the bacon to those poorer, black districts is going to be popular, no matter what they do. If those same Congresspeople just happen to be black, there are going to be allegations from those districts that those charges are racially based.
Of course, race doesn't apply here at all. This is about entitlement and yes, as Joe said, longevity. I think the Ethics Committee is moving with clean hands and a clear conscience.
I've been hearing about Maxine for years for having family members on the Congressional Office Payroll. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a Liberal Ethics Watchdog has had her on their most corrupt Congresspeople list for years. In this case, we're talking about steering Federal Money to a Minority-owned bank. I still can't explain to you in clear english what Rangel did, but it involved chicanery on his tax returns and some free trips to the Caribbean. In either case, I think these are cases of low-level corruption. No one's going to jail in either of these cases. Lose their jobs? Maybe, but I'd let the information loose, and let the people of their districts make their choice. Knowing my people, they'll look after their own. Calling them crooks, as Joe Klein does, is going a little overboard. My understanding is that these were clear violations of House Rules, and they deserve some kind of comeupance.
At the same time, any time the media wants to focus this much attention on Sen. John Ensign's actual criminal behavior, be my frickin' guest.
My only question is, after an Ethics Mechanism that's been gathering dust, why aren't the Democrats getting more credit for going after their own? We have strong majorities in both Houses and we're not papering this crap over.