A public trial would be ruinous for Mr. Rangel. Conventional wisdom holds it would be ruinous as well for other Democrats. But I think a trial would damage incumbents in both parties. There’s nothing uniquely “Democratic” about the Rangel story told here.
Congress just passed a financial regulation bill and people wonder how it can be 2000 pages long. The Rangel saga suggests why. The reason it’s 2000 pages long has less to do with the need for regulation and a lot to do with the needs of Washington. Every financial player in America will have to contribute money, one way or another, to Washington’s great guys—to their campaigns, their legacy projects, to the former members of the congressional family who will lobby and lubricate the bill’s incomprehensible details.
That’s the deal in Washington now. But that’s not the deal as understood by most American voters. American politics is about to go through one of its periodic purifications. Decent, competent members of Congress will get swept away. Charlie Rangel, a 20-termer and a great guy, will go down in ignominy.