But the humiliating rebuke occurred only after a battle showing that too many members, including Rangel himself, seem indifferent to people's expectations that their elected representatives will adhere to a standard of conduct higher than "don't get caught in the act of stealing." Before the censure vote, a disturbing 146 of Rangel's colleagues supported a lesser sanction
Beyond the Beltway, either sanction probably sounded like weak punishment. Neither requires expulsion from Congress or even loss of pay or pension. But since 1789, just 22 lawmakers have been censured, and it was clear from the 80-year-old Rangel's last-ditch plea for leniency that he was shaken by the prospect of such a stain on his legacy. After being elected 40 years ago as a reformer, the decorated Korean War veteran will now be remembered as another arrogant pol who thought he was above the rules. It's a sad epitaph to a long career.