Silly Joe Conason! Doesn’t he know it’s okay if you’re a Republican?
The rule that Rangel violated when he took those now-infamous Caribbean trips was instituted by the Democratic majority as part of its ethics reorganization. This was a rules change that Boehner vocally opposed — and it is a rule that Boehner would have violated more than once had it been in effect a year or two earlier. Back in July 2006, the New York Times reported on one of Boehner’s many subsidized vacations:
“Mr. Boehner flew to a golf resort in Boca Raton, Fla., in March for a convention of commodities traders, who have contributed more than $100,000 to his campaigns and are lobbying against a proposed federal tax on futures transactions. During the trip, Mr. Boehner assured his hosts that Congress would most likely not approve a tax they opposed. His leadership committee, the Freedom Project, which in recent months has enlisted the use of corporate planes from Federal Express, Aflac and the Florida Power and Light Company, later reimbursed the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the cost of the Boca Raton trip.”
Naturally Boehner’s leadership PAC is funded heavily by corporate interests – so he was “reimbursing” one corporation with money donated to him by others. Boehner has always been known as an obsequious servant of business lobbyists, dating back to the moment in 1995 when he was observed handing out checks from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company political action committee on the House floor. (Confronted by a few naive GOP freshmen, he conceded that such brazen grifting “didn’t look good” and was sorry that he had been caught.)
At this point it is clear that Rangel is guilty of hubris and sloppiness, and perhaps worse. It isn’t easy to understand why he should be branded irredeemably “corrupt,” however, while someone like Boehner is considered an honorable public servant. The notion that he and his cronies would restore ethical standards if they regain the majority must be a joke.