Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash Vol XXIV: Obama vs. Rangel smackdown, show business for ugly people, and a fly rod buyer’s guide

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Dear Matt: I always enjoy your columns. I have your book and truly appreciate your ability to focus on the human aspects of your topic. Your articles on Donald Trump and Al Sharpton made them seem genuinely “normal” and, with Mr. Sharpton particularly, like a pretty decent guy. I was wondering, Charlie Rangel seems like basically a pretty decent guy who could use one of your column make-overs right now. Any chance of this? And did you nominate any of the DC locals recently recognized as Hot People in The Hill? And what is your favorite weight and brand of fly rod? (I’m hoping with the multiple questions and compliments at the start, you’ll go for something and publish my question.) Your friend, John Locke

Dear friend,

There are few things more punishing than advice columnists who gratuitously include heaping shovels of reader praise before getting on to the question. But I’m including yours now to provide a helpful lesson for other readers, which is: if you go out of your way to flatter me, it’s that much less time I have to dedicate to idle boasting and plugging my own products. So it works out. Though I do hope you purchase my Ask Matt Labash souvenir beer-can koozies by placing your order at [email protected]. We accept most major credit cards and even Goldline coins if you insist on paying in Glenn Beckerands.

I’ll now take your questions in alphabetical order.

Charlie Rangel — Is it possible to humanize him?

Of course it is. Think about it. Does Charlie Rangel need this? Does he need to be a member of Congress? I’m sure he could’ve made a lot more money on the outside working as a Tone Loc impersonator at bar mitzvahs, or using his distinctive vocals to do cartoon voiceover work as Spongeob SquarePants friend, Emphysematous, the Smoker’s-Coughing Sea Urchin. Instead, Rangel has given nearly 40 years of selfless service to the good people of Harlem. And that was after he won the Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Korea, while the current president was dodging the draft by joining the National Guard and smoking dope at Oxford {note to Daily Caller fact checker, Nexis this — I sometimes get my presidents and Asian wars confused}.

Now, as Rangel faces 13 counts of violating House ethics rules and federal laws, our president decides to pile on, saying it’s time for the 80-year-old Rangel to “end his career with dignity,” something Obama might want to start working toward himself with only two more years until 2012. I’m sure a part of Rangel would like to step down and avoid the unpleasantness so he can spend more time cheating on his taxes with his family. But he’s fighting it. Because that’s what fighters like him do. They fight for you, if by “you,” you mean “themselves.” And also, because who wouldn’t want to rent four expensive Manhattan apartments in a building owned by your campaign contributor for about half of what they’d go for on the open market? Even by sweetheart deal standards, that’s a pretty sweet deal. Rangel clearly believes in paying as little as possible to derive maximum benefit. While as president, Obama clearly believes in spending as much money as possible to derive next to no benefit. So it’s pretty clear what’s motivating Obama to call for Rangel’s resignation: jealousy. Maybe Obama shouldn’t be asking for Rangel to step down. Maybe he should be asking him for pointers.