This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," July 31, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," Charlie Rangel's ethics mess. How much trouble will it cause fellow Democrats in November?
Plus, the WikiLeaks fallout. Did the document dump endanger innocent lives? And are the newspapers that printed them really serving the public interest?
Plus, giving bad teachers the boot. D.C.'s school chancellor, Michelle Rhee, does what was once unthinkable, and fires almost 200 for poor performance. The teachers union is howling, but will the idea catch on?
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REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We'll keep our promise to drain the swamp that is Washington D.C., to let sunshine disinfect the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, the swamp isn't quite drained yet. The House Ethics Committee this week charged New York Congressman and former House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel with 13 violations, including failing to report rental income from a vacation property in the Dominican Republic, using a rent stabilized apartment in Manhattan for his campaign office, and improperly soliciting donations from corporate officials and lobbyists for the Charles B. Rangel Public Policy Center in New York.
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; columnist, Mary Anastasia O'Grady; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
So, Kim, starting with you, John Podhoretz, a New York Post columnist, this week wrote that the charges against Rangel aren't that big a deal, kind of small stuff, business as usual. Do you see it this way?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: He's right in this is not graft or corruption on a huge scale but, in a way, this is almost worse for Democrats, what they are. And if this was corruption, all the party could say, look, this is an isolated case of one guy doing something wrong. But instead, what the violations are emblematic about what the public dislikes about Congress. It's a sense of entitlement. It's a sense of arrogance, the idea that Congress doesn't play by the same rules as everyone else. And a great example is the rental income from his holiday home in the Dominican Republic. If anyone else had not reported that income, the IRS would be there with tax evasion, have them thrown in jail possible. But this doesn't happen in Congress.
GIGOT: But, Kim, are you saying that this is business as usual for Congress? Because if that's true, is this fair to single out Charlie Rangel?
STRASSEL: There's a perception out there in America, that this is business as usual in Congress. Maybe not to the degree of Mr. Rangel. and I think that these alleged violations, if you read them, are particularly long list of things of wrongdoing, but I think there's a belief out there in the general public that, yes, most of these guys, they don't play by the same rules.
GIGOT: All right, but on the merits, Mary, as you look at this, trying to make a judgment, as a citizen and as a journalist, is it fair to put Charlie Rangel in the dock for these allegations?
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, COLUMNIST: Oh, I think it is. I think it's absolutely outrageous. and you know, not just that he did one or two things wrong, but as the investigative subcommittee report says, there's a pattern of inaccurate reporting, not just on taxes, but his financial disclosure reports. This is obviously a politician, 21 terms in Congress.
GIGOT: 20 terms, I think.
O'GRADY: Sorry, this will be 21 if he's elected in November.
GIGOT: Coming up, if I'm right.
O'GRADY: And thinks he's invincible. It's very clear. I mean, he thinks that he is above the law. And I cannot see how we could just say, well, everybody does it, you know, let it pass, if we expect to have any accountability in Congress.