Charlie Rangel’s Deadly Sin

When the last Puritans unlocked a local miscreant from the town stocks for a final time, my guess is they … Continued

When the last Puritans unlocked a local miscreant from the town stocks for a final time, my guess is they probably thought, “You know, we’re going to miss this simple device–nothing like a little public humiliation to set people on the straight and narrow!”

I doubt anyone in colonial Massachusetts envisioned the punishment of a formal Congressional censure. But had they seen one–as delivered to Rep. Charles Rangel on Thursday–they would have recognized the idea behind the stocks, writ very large and bold. Mr. Rangel, a 40-year veteran of the House of Representatives, had to appear among his 400-some fellows while House Leader Nancy Pelosi confronted him with his transgressions, reading aloud the findings of the House Ethics Committee.

I know, plenty of people–in the news media and out–think Rangel simply got greedy. The ethics violations of which he was accused, after all, mainly did concern issues of unreported income and unpaid taxes.

But that’s not the real problem here. As any medieval monk–or, for that matter, moral theologian of any age–could tell us, Rangel’s failing was pride, the deadliest of the Seven Deadly Sins. Yes, greed (or avarice) makes that select list, too, but pride is its mother, the first failing that permits the other six.

It’s also the easiest to commit, perhaps the most human of them all. All it takes is thinking, “Well, you know, I could just do [fill in blank here] because I’ve earned it, am entitled to it, etc.”

Once that thought arises, that you are somehow privileged above all others, then pride’s got its teeth into you. And, like a bulldog, it doesn’t tend to let go, not until it’s wrestled you into a unique, self-referential reality that can only be shattered when your clearer-eyed peers bring you to your senses by slapping you into the stocks or marching you down to the House floor.

It ain’t a pretty spectacle. Mr. Rangel may stand as its object lesson, but he can take a tiny bit of comfort in knowing he will never be alone.

Gustav Niebuhr
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  • peterccpa

    What’s particularly notable about Rangel’s transgressions is that he didn’t learn from those who fell before him…Rostenkowski and how many others? The power and ego which vests in our elected officials breeds greed and excesses which test their ethical behavior to its limit. If they once knew right from wrong, once elected, should those values be thrown out the window? When will it all end…perhaps with shorter terms on top of term limits.

  • ozwizard

    You guys are good at fiction. Fry the cheat

  • Moley2

    Another Con gress man caught mistreating his constitutents. The system does not work because this elderly gentleman is not alone in his quest for self interest. The poor people in his district have gained nothing during his 40+ years, they are still mostly poor with no opportunity. There are internet sites like toyota runaway org that do a better job of helping people than some of these elected officials.

  • bruce18

    Peterccpa wrote:What’s particularly notable about Rangel’s transgressions is that he didn’t learn from those who fell before him…Peterccpa,

  • toshiro1

    People who commit this crime *can’t* learn from others who have done it before them. They tend to have little to no sense of introspection, so they can’t observe their own behavior and compare it to others. Almost everyone is afflicted this way to some extent, but those who have the biggest dosages tend to find themselves furthest out on the branch. The sad thing is that they often don’t comprehend why the branch snaps from under them. Even if they do, frequently the lesson doesn’t last. They’ll soon find themselves out on some new other branch…

  • alwaysAlabama

    Rangel is a prime example of why America is in the shape it is in. Greed. I would like to own a home in the Caribeans, but never when so many single mothers are scraping the food off of the table to feed their children. This man is despicable. A hypocrite. He should recompensate USA for the pay he received as a member of Congress. He is a sorry man to take on an attitude. His head should hang in shame. When these kind are found, he deserves no pity. Have no mercy on him. He is too old to be such a crook, he has gotten away too long is his problem. I would hate to be a member of his family. He disgraceful.

  • jfx1

    The word is “entitlement”, as in, I am justified to take whatever I want because I’ve [whatever]. Being ‘proud’ isn’t necessary, just another moral sin.As a tax cheat in charge of setting tax laws for the country, he should go to jail.Who puts the “con” in Congress?

  • ravitchn

    ISN’T PRIDE ONE OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS? WELL, NOT FOR LIBERAL PROTESTANTS FOR WHOM NEGROES CAN DO NO WRONG.

  • ravitchn

    CHURCH-GOING NEGROES PROCREATE WITHOUT MARRIAGE, TAKE ILLEGAL DRUGS, AND VIOLATE MOST CHRISTIAN MORAL DEMANDS. SHOULD WE TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. YES, IF WE ARE LIBERAL. GUILT-SODDEN PROTESTANTS.BLACK RELIGION IS A FRAUD.

  • Hawser

    Please, sincerely, do I have to get college degrees to understand why pride is a tax cheats problem. Exactly at what point do you folks come to understand that he feels something special when he cheats on his taxes and claims he not as bad as a child molester and I just think I am cheating when I try to save a few bucks with a shaky deduction. You all think you are pretty special, don’t you. If you are above child molesters, you are still below me. Your whole article should be reported as obscene. Rangel was breaking laws that 21 year old tax payers are aware of. I guess they are not worthy of your folks understanding because they and theirs unlike you and yours arn’t entitled with pride. Have another special elite day.

  • tonyjm

    What was sad about this situation was the members of congress clapped and cheer after he addressed them as if they approved of what he had done. I would have have expected silence.

  • momof20yo

    If he’s still got his job, his paycheck, AND his pension, this ‘censure’ is utterly worthless. A few minutes of embarassment, then he’s back at work, doing the same scams he’s been doing for a long time. He’s not going to give up the money and the ‘power’ he thinks he’s due because of his ‘job title’.

  • momof20yo

    If he’s still got his job, his paycheck, AND his pension, this ‘censure’ is utterly worthless. A few minutes of embarassment, then he’s back at work, doing the same scams he’s been doing for a long time. He’s not going to give up the money and the ‘power’ he thinks he’s due because of his ‘job title’.

  • freedon

    OK folks those who want to find out who voted and how go to C-Span.org it will give you choices pick Politics the put in under search Rangel vote to censure, and their it is.

  • jon15

    Ha! Is this from The Onion?

  • carlbatey

    Corrupt chango. Be proud, democrats and other filth.

  • austininc444

    Ironic, how people on the Rabid Reich are all for Dogging out a Democrat when they do anything wrong, but they tend to look the other way when a Republican is caught doing wrong. Case in point: Senator David “the Diaper Man” Vitter, Senator John “I’m having Sex with my Chief of Staff’s Wife” Ensign, Governor Mark Sanford, who cheated on his Wife and State. I could go on all night of Republicans who commit CRIMES and do wrong. You all know who they are, you prefer to look the other way.”HYPOCRITES one and ALL of you”.

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  • ProudAmerican1

    The censure is a joke. And it certainly was to Rangel. He kept everything financial. He lost nothing. What kind of punishment is that under the circumstances of his censure? If a heroe falls, he doesn’t deserve to be excused for it. For crying out loud. This is ridiculous.

  • CJackson36

    Niebuhr’s analysis runs true to me. As one of Rangel’s constituents, I’ve watched this thing play out, and I’m always stunned at his obliviousness to the consequences of his transgressions. He was the chair of Ways and Means, for Pete’s sake, and all his personal transactions should have been handled professionally.On the other hand, maybe it’s not too surprising that he doesn’t get the message after his fans gave him a lavish 80th birthday party, and both Mayor Bloomberg and Bill Clinton endorsed him in the recent election. He could have retired quietly and saved himself the humiliation. I don’t think what he did is as awful as many here seem to think, but taxpayers have every right to demand that their representatives follow the same rules they do.Pride is so seductive.

  • Shadowsmgc

    Another Con gress man caught mistreating his constitutents. The system does not work because this elderly gentleman is not alone in his quest for self interest. The poor people in his district have gained nothing during his 40+ years, they are still mostly poor with no opportunity. There are internet sites like toyota runaway org that do a better job of helping people than some of these elected officials.

  • Birdmom78

    That’s NOT PRIDE, it’s ARROGANCE!These people think they are above the law and if all they get is a little rebuke that amounts to NOTHING… what does it matter???Nancy banged her gavel like it was breaking her heart… is this what she call clearing the swamp??? Get that big gavel and clear her head someone, please!

  • markandbeth92

    He is a crook plan and simple. Only kicking him out of congress and putting him in jail is appropriate. Not a 42 second soft ball scolding followed by a standing ovation.

  • postfan1

    Pride or greed. Take your pick.Normally one deadly sin is enough.

  • val24601

    Arrogance and a willingness to subscribe to thuggery characterizes Congressman Rangel. His constituents evidently didn’t mind having a thug to represent them as they reelected him without a qualm. You wonder what ‘s wrong with America? If those who want representation are willing to settle for the likes of Charley Rangel they evidently forgot or never knew that the country was founded on the lack of representation from the taxes they paid. Censure means nothing to the likes of those who are only happy to get away with all they can.

  • joe_allen_doty

    The doctrine of the “Seven Deadly Sins” is not in the Bible.The only “Sin Unto Death” is “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” That when the Holy Spirit does a miracle and mockers claim the devil or Ba’al did it. According to Jesus’ words, all other sins are forgivable by God when the person repents of them.