Rostenkowski was also the chairman of the Ways and Means committee, and like Rangel, was felled by scandal, eventually pleading guilty to mail fraud after a long investigation into his alleged corruption.
This video is amazing for several reasons: Not only does Rangel defend health care in remarkably similar terms that he used to push Obama’s effort 16 years later, but he uses a lot of the same language to defend Rostenkowski that he now uses to defend himself.
When host Sam Donaldson asks him about the possibility of him becoming chairman if Rostenkowski is forced to step aside Rangel replies:
Talking with you I feel like I have a very sick friend and you are preparing the funeral. But the truth of the matter is we have been going through all of this for a couple of years, and yet there has been no charges made against Dan Rostenkowski. But that never stops the press. So putting aside the presumption of innocence I think that everybody on that committee would like to become chairman. The question is how would you like to become chairman. At someone’s expense?