Charlie Rangel, My Grandfather

I'm no political legacy. My Brooklyn-Queens pedigree is rooted in the non-mob side of the garment business, while my mother is a teacher and my dad is a writer. But due to recent happenings in the United States House of Representatives, I've come to understand how easy it is for relatives of politicians to ignore evidence that suggests their beloved family members are liars, thieves, and even reprehensible scumbags. I can sympathize with Lynne, Chelsea, Barb, and Jenna; you see, embattled Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel looks just like my maternal grandfather.

Though Vito Albanese was full-blooded Italian and Rangel is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the resemblance is Gary Busey-Nick Nolte nutty. They have the same grapefruit-shaped heads, wide nose, mustache, and silver mane parted on the left. I lost my grandfather more than a decade ago, but in a way he's always been there watching over me, standing up against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and swinging on reporters with his Cab Calloway bravado.

Conservatives reading this will claim that my bias is more liberal than it is ancestral. In response I would argue that I'm a class warrior, not a partisan, and I would ordinarily be outraged at any pol who subsidizes apartments (that I can't afford) with taxpayer dollars. But with Rangel I simply don't care; ever since the investigation into his ethics violations began two years ago – and especially now as his comrades throw him to the dogs – I can't help but to feel badly for the guy. For my grandpa.

This sensibility does not apply to all world leaders who can double for my relatives; my father is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad minus the casual golf jacket, yet I'm dead against Iranian nuclear proliferation. I'm not a Cheney or a Freemason – my family ties only knot so deep; but I'm still sticking with the distinguished gentleman from New York. As was the case with my grandfather, it might be Rangel's time to move on. Unless they find a trunk full of mutilated hookers in his Lenox Terrace flat, though, I'll stand in denial of all charges like the mother of a pedophile ex-con on Law & Order.

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