Thursday looks to be the big day for U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., accused of violations by the House Ethics Committee. Barring some kind of deal between Rangel and the committee, a public hearing of the specific charges is scheduled. Rangel reportedly is being pressured to do something — accept the charges or resign — to avoid a public trial that could drag into the fall campaigning season and hurt Democrats.
There is symmetry in politics. Rangel has been a member of Congress since 1971. His predecessor representing the Harlem-area district was Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a powerful, suave but controversial figure who was weakened by ethics charges when Rangel beat him in the 1970 Democratic primary. Rangel has served more than 39 years but now has obvious problems of his own. Should Rangel survive them and seek re-election, he’d first have to get past the Democratic primary in September against … Adam Clayton Powell IV, the former congressman’s son.