The House was back, briefly, from its month-long vacation today for a quickie vote on a $26 billion jobs bill. It passed! But then Rep. Charlie Rangel made members stick around for another half-hour, to yell about his innocence.
Rangel's fellow congressman weren't particularly happy about coming back to vote anyway, because they're all lazy crooks. But Democrats, at least, thought that they could save hundreds of thousands of teachers' jobs and have a good message day before returning to their districts. Sorry! Charlie Rangel had to invoke his point of privilege to speak, and speak, and speak, and yell, about his ethics violations, just as that story was finally dissipating from the news.
"You're not going to tell me to resign to make you feel comfortable," the 80-year-old New York Democrat said after reminding the Democratic side of the aisle that "I'm the guy that was raising money in Republican districts to get you here."
Hundreds of Rangel's fellow lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, sat rapt as he delivered an unusual 20-minute, off-the-cuff defense of his right to a speedy and fair trial under House ethics rules. Rangel challenged his colleagues to expel him if his case merits it.
"If I can't get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot and get rid of me through expulsion," he said.
Jesus. Just wait until September and head back to your district! Harlem's lovely in the summertime.