Why Rangel and Murtha have to go

I’m a fan of Charlie Rangel.  He’s been a solid player as Chair of Ways & Means, and is perhaps the wittiest denizen of Washington not named Barney Frank.  (And Rangel’s wit is gentler, which I prefer.)

I’m not a fan of John Murtha, who aside from taking a bold stand on the Iraq War after it started has been wrong on just about everything.  He’s a “social conservative” and a fiscal spendthrift, especially when the spending is on useless military toys.  And he used the “earmark” porkbarrel to deliver liberal Democratic votes for absurd defense appropriations.

But they have something in common:  they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar (Murtha much more grossly than Rangel) and they have to go.

Time to tear up the ethics truce, bounce the pair of them, and then start some hearings on the outrages of the Armey/DeLay era.   But the Democrats can’t go back to the country in 2010 as the defenders of gross corruption.   And if that turns out to be true of John Conyers as well, too bad.

I understand the reluctance of the Democratic Caucus in general, and the CBC in particular, to throw old colleagues under the bus.   But it has to be done.  As a C.S. Lewis character remarks, loyalty is a precious virtue:  far too precious to waste on individuals.   It’s time for the Democrats in the House to be loyal to the cause, and not to their corrupt colleagues.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Why Rangel and Murtha have to go”

  1. It's worth noting that Conyers and Rangel certainly represent safe Dem districts. Not quite so for Murtha. But Murtha is a particularly disgusting creature whose name routinely pops up in ethics investigations. It is certainly no credit to him as a person that he's managed to weasel out of all them so far (but it is to his credit as a politician). There are a couple of other slimy creatures that deserve more scrutiny (e.g., Moran (VA)). But they are not frontliners–the other three are. I've had a target painted on Murtha for over 10 years, and would not be sad to see him thrown under the bus in the slightest.

  2. Hearings on the outrages of the Armey-Delay era? My god, Armey retired in 2003, and Delay retired in 2005. Meanwhile actually corrupt Democrats are actually in office today.

    The trouble for Mark is distinguishing the corruption of these guys from the corruption in the rest of the party. The cause is kleptocracy after all.

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