Charlie Rangel releases poignant campaign video

The embattled, ethically challenged congressman reminds us that people used to love him

Published July 26, 2010 10:45PM (EDT)

Congressman Charlie Rangel will hear the ethics charges against him this Thursday. Because the House Ethics Committee doesn't even hold these hearings until they've investigated and uncovered serious ethical lapses, the chances of Rangel emerging from the hearings exonerated are slim.

But his campaign released this video today, of his birthday party last year, to remind voters that everyone used to love him:

Meanwhile, Rangel's main primary opponent, Adam Clayton Powell IV, remains the single most compelling reason to support Rangel's bid for one last term. (Or, at least, to hope for Rangel to not cut a deal and resign until after the election.)

Capital New York talked to Powell, who doesn't seem to understand even the broad strokes of policy very well. Rangel famously called for the return of a military draft, so that all Americans would have to grapple with our pointless Iraq war. Powell doesn't seem to know the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan.

Powell, asked about Rangel's proposal, said: "We don't need to draft more soldiers, we need to bring our soldiers home.”

America, he continued, "should only go to war to defend against attacks."

He was talking about Afghanistan, but then he was talking about Iraq, where the motivation for the war—"revenge, oil contracts, Halliburton, whatever"—he said went well beyond self-defense.

He said Barack Obama was making the same mistake in Afghanistan that George W. Bush had made by invading Iraq in 2003.

"We're in Afghanistan because we're trying to fight a war there, but history tells us when there is a war there, we're not going to be able to fight a war there by ourselves," he said.

He concluded by pointing out that America had not been attacked since 9/11, and saying, "These preemptive wars are questionable to begin with.”

When asked whether the war in Afghanistan was a response to the 9/11 attacks and not a preemptive war, he emphasized American failures so far.

"We're looking for Osama Bin Laden—the man is 65, needs dialysis, and we can't find him?" he asked. "Unless we find him—I fail to see the reason why we're there."

(Osama bin Laden is 53.)

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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2010 Elections Charlie Rangel D-n.y. U.s. House Of Representatives