Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Charlie Rangel's Troubles

After years, it looks like Charlie Rangels various legal difficulties might be resolved in the near future. There is speculation that he will cut a deal with the committee investigating him. House Democrats are said to be prodding Rangel towards a deal in hopes that a trial won’t damage Democrats in the fall campaign. But I really doubt that Rangel going through a trial will much hurt Democrats, and that they should focus their nervous energy elsewhere.

Republican strategists would like to think that the “culture of corruption,” a prominent Democratic meme during the 2006 midterms, won Democrats the control of the House that year. It is true that voters said that corruption was an important factor in their votes. But more important were two other issues: the war in Iraq and the economy. Voters who said those issues were important to their votes trended heavily Democratic in the election. Remember too that in fall 2006, Iraq was in chaos. This was before the surge brought some measure of security and stability to the country. A majority of voters in fact, supported bringing some or all troops home.

Is that weren’t enough to sink the Republicans, George W. Bush was. By late 2006, 56% of Americans strongly disapproved of the job Bush was doing. Voters were disenchanted with the slow pace of progress in Iraq as well as his handling of Hurricane Katrina. Simply put, Bush was an albatross around the necks of every Republican running for office.

That brings me to 2010. The biggest issue on the minds of voters, above deficits, the war in Afghanistan, and anything else will be financial crisis. Consumers aren’t spending, and so many voters are fearful that the next pink slip could be theirs or a loved one’s. By the time November rolls around voters will likely have forgotten about Rangel, and be focusing in on their own financial situation. Need proof? Ask yourself how many people around you are still talking about Mark Sanford or Mark Souder. Even though their scandals happened just last year (or earlier in this one), people have moved on. Very few will cast their votes based upon their troubles. So will it be with Charlie Rangel.