House Panel Will Try Rangel in Ethics Cases

“The details of the violations have not yet been disclosed, but the finding means the Harlem Democrat must face a public trial before the House ethics committee.”

I am so sorry to see such an end to an otherwise distinguished political career.

I came to know Charlie when he was first running for office as an honest politician among a number of others invited by J. Raymond Jones, “the Harlem Fox,” to get Harlem politicians “off the plantation.”

“J. “The Fox” Raymond Jones, (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 1899 – June 9, 1991 New York) African American New York politician. He moved to New York City in 1918. He challenged Tammany Hall leader Carmine DeSapio twice. After a failed campaign seeking support to his candidature in 1958, Jones succeeded in becoming the first black leader of Tammany in 1964. In 1961 Jones supported the election of Robert F. Wagner Jr. as New York mayor, again in contrast to Carmine DeSapio. Jones served as mentor to several younger black politicians who later became prominent in New York politics. This group, known as the “Harlem Clubhouse”, included David Dinkins, Basil Paterson, Charles Rangel and Percy Sutton, among others.”

Charlie was a decent guy and I was in Ray’s office (working for him that summer between grad school and my first teaching job at Vassar), when Charlie stormed in terribly upset by a scandalous smear document directed against his opponent. I recall Ray saying to him, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Neither Ray nor obviously Charlie had drafted the smear.

Ray’s major point was that we had to choose pragmatically between the less evil of two candidates, if that was all that was available. In this sense he reminds me a bit of Obama. Ray at the time was being terribly smeared by the downtown liberals and media (e.g. NY Times) as the uptown replacement of Carmine DeSapio, a notorious political hack who had been dominating NYC politics:

I guess the moral of this sad tale is the power corrupts — sometimes even the best.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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