OK, so the House Ethics Committee today convicted Charlie Rangel of 11 of 13 counts of ethics violations. We're sure the right-wingers like Michelle Malkin who make careers out of painting Democrats as ineluctably corrupt while blithely pretending Jack Abramoff and Halliburton didn't happen will be delighted.
However, it's actually pretty close to meaningless:
The full ethics panel will now convene a sanctions hearing to recommend a punishment, which ethics experts say will most likely be a reprimand or formal censure.
... Either reprimand or formal censure carry no immediate, tangible consequence for Rangel, who easily won reelection this month, but the sweeping guilty verdict delivers a damaging blow to his reputation and 40-year political legacy.
As Alex Parene at Salon observes, the offenses for which they eventually convicted Rangel are actually pretty minor, and the whole affair pretty damned lame:
Rangel's arrogance and self-pity have won him little support in the press, with cable news regularly treating him as the picture of congressional corruption and the schoolmarms at the New York Times editorial page regularly tut-tutting about how serious we must all pretend this is. The New York Post -- which has dedicated itself, thus far unsuccessfully, to hounding Rangel out of office -- has for years now featured various embarrassing stories of his fecklessness, accompanied by that hilarious photo of the congressman dozing off at his Dominican villa. But after years of this, the best the House ethics committee could do was to find that Rangel violated New York building code, failed to file his taxes correctly, and improperly used government letterhead.
The worst you can say about Rangel is that he's grown too entrenched to care if he abuses rent control, and he hired a crappy accountant. Casting donations to City College as improper gifts to Rangel is a bit much.
Rangel is probably done in terms of any real influence on the Hill, and retirement would be a wise option. But this whole affair was petty -- typical of the kinds of "investigations" we're probably going to be seeing from the new Republicans waiting to take over.