Congressman Charles Rangel is 80. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is 54. Both of them are in limbo, and to my eye, both of them are sort of doing The Limbo.
(It's a West Indian dance in which the dancer bends backwards to pass under a horizontal bar which is progressively lowered toward the ground.)
It's strenuous -- you've got to be limber and flexible, but both of these guys are gifted, mentally and physically, capable of adapting to any and all the challenges and exigencies of politics.
Rangel, tears in his eyes, is pleading with everyone who will listen, saying that he's got to have a hearing right now in congress, no matter what other issues (like war and unemployment) are on the on the agenda. He's demanding a chance to prove that he's not corrupt.
Rod Blagojevich, innocent-faced and fluffy-haired, has been limbo-ing for years. He's in great shape physically and superbly skilled in changing the subject -- proving that his critics and accusers live in glass houses and shouldn't be throwing stones -- proving that everything he's done was done to help the people of Illinois.
Blagojevich claims he is a hero to most people who live in Illinois, and Rangel's says he's loved by his constituents. Both men claim passionately they've done nothing wrong.
With appeals and the media (that loves to bring in celebrities outsiders with opinions), their guilt will be discussed, re-hashed, minimized, reduced to such an extent that we'll think --"hey leave the guy alone -- he's done a lot of work for the people --so he did a few things he shouldn't have done, but who hasn't done things they regret?"
Based on what has been written about Rangel (what he's accused of and what he's admitted doing), I know Rangel has used his political position to gain money and power. And I can say the same thing about Blagojevich.
Rangel admits that he made a couple of mistakes in filing taxes (he made the same mistake 28 times) but he proclaims that he's not corrupt, and he keeps listing his good deeds. Blagojevich is celebrating that he was found guilty on one count only -- confident that the other 23 counts can't be proved, certain that a new trial will be a mistrial, proclaiming over and over that he's done nothing wrong.
I'm declaring: Both these guys have done illegal, unethical things. Both are guilty.
I want them banished! I want both of them out of the news. I think Congressman Rangel should retire immediately -- go on a vacation for a year or so. I think Rod Blagojevich needs a new profession -- (even if he serves time in jail), he ought to work on a night club act -- as a famous ex-con, he could earn a good living telling his story.
Since Nixon, we've been developing a "look the other way" habit. Rarely, these days, are we shocked by lying, cheating, corrupt leaders.
We've been ignoring criminal behavior in businesses, banks, insurance companies, builders, ignoring it on Wall street, in hospitals, in institutions of higher education, and on and on goes the list.
Right now, we desperately need men and women in public office who are honest, who will not lie, cheat, or be corrupted -- definitely no limbo dancers -- more than anything else, we need men and women in our government whom we can trust.