President Obama said that he hopes the long career of Congressman Charles Rangel will end in dignity. So do we. That means the congressman should step down, now, and avoid a public trial in the House. He has become an embarrassment to New York and a poster child for a Republican Party intent on winning control of the House of Representatives in the fall. It is time for him to go.
Mr. Rangel, like many veteran politicians, can wax eloquent about the joys and obligations of public service. Mr. Rangel’s supporters-that diminishing band of hardy loyalists-will argue with justification that the congressman has labored long and hard in service to his country and his city. That is so. But now Mr. Rangel has a chance to perform one final selfless act on behalf of his party, his constituents and his president. By resigning, he will remove himself as a national lightning rod at a time when his party is desperately trying to retain the House and, quite possibly, preserve Mr. Obama’s presidency.
The White House has endured its share of self-inflicted wounds over the past two years, but the president certainly deserves a chance to reboot and move forward even as Republicans begin slogging to Iowa to begin the long march toward 2012. A G.O.P. takeover of the House could foreshadow an abrupt end to a once-promising presidency.
Mr. Rangel can do his part by leaving the scene-with dignity-and removing himself as a campaign issue. His party and his president will be forever grateful.