With all the criminality in public life, why am I so disturbed with Charlie Rangel? Jack Marshall put his metaphorical finger on it in his EthicsAlarm blog: Rangel is an ethics corrupter. Marshall defines it this way:
“An ethics corrupter is a public figure of high accomplishment, a hero who encourages his admirers and followers to allow the hero’s achievements to excuse his flawed character and values…The ethics corrupter…weakens the public’s resistance to corruption and misconduct, and encourages a culture of privilege in which an individual is allowed to break the law and rules in direct proportion to his or her perceived value to society.”
As I’m disgusted by Rangel’s conduct, I’m alarmed by the people defending it. The only hopeful sign is that the House ethics committee, comprising four Democrats and four Republicans, brought charges against Rangel, and will try him on these charges, with the possible penalty upon conviction ranging from admonition to expulsion from the House of Representatives.
If Rangel had the tiniest sense of public responsibility or honor he would resign. But he doesn’t and he won’t. He’ll probably cost the Democrats control of the House in the coming election but he doesn’t care. And if they let him, neither should we.