The Washington Post's Dana Milbank provides all sorts of great details from embattled New York Congressman Charlie Rangel's rambling and pugnacious self-defense yesterday afternoon before the House:
The gentleman from New York sought recognition to deliver, without warning, one of the most extraordinary pieces of political oratory in recent memory. Facing a trial before the House Ethics Committee, he gave a rambling, 30-minute speech attacking the committee, the Republicans, his fellow Democrats and even his own lawyers. It was less of a floor speech than a primal scream directed at those who say he should resign, or cut a deal with the committee, to spare his party a political debacle in November.
"Hey, if I was you, I may want me to go away too," he told his colleagues, referring to his ethics problems as a "so-called" scandal. "I am not going away. I am here."
How did Rangel's friends on the left respond?
Midway through the diatribe, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left her seat and walked to the back of the chamber. When Rangel finally finished, a few dozen Democrats—mostly members of the black caucus, New Yorkers and liberals—stood to applaud. Most Democrats—including Rep. David Obey (Minn.), the man who was leading the teachers-and-cops bill on the floor—sat in silence. Democratic members, approached by reporters for comment as they left the chamber, looked stricken….
"What speech?" asked Rep. Steve Cohen.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz merely rolled her eyes and shook her head.
Why not watch it for yourself: