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Cynthia Tucker,  Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Nancy Pelosi has enough problems trying to keep her undisciplined caucus in line. She’s doesn’t need the additional headache of stripping Charlie Rangel, the long-serving Harlem Democrat, of his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee.

So Rangel ought to do the honorable thing and step down.

Given the continuing lapses in his personal finances, Rangel doesn’t have the credibility to serve as chair of Ways and Means, the committee charged with, among other things, setting tax policy. Over the last few years, Rangel has “forgotten” how much money he has —— several times —- and neglected to account for his wealth in required House financial disclosure forms. He has also failed to pay taxes on quite a bit of that income.

Just last week, he amended financial disclosure forms to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income he earned between 2002 and 2006. He forgot a Merrill Lynch account valued between $250,000 and $500,000. He neglected to mention tens of thousands in rent from a New York brownstone he once owned. His ownership of tens of thousands of dollars in municipal bonds also slipped his mind.

Even if he didn’t have major credibility problems, all that forgetfulness would raise significant questions about whether Rangel, 79, retains the mental acuity to run a committee that deals with such complex issues.

Whoa.  Playing the McCain card against Rangel.  That wasn’t fair for McCain and it’s not fair for Rangel. Rangle, even at 79, surely knew exactly what taxes he was avoiding.


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