Ask Matt Labash

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

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Matt Labash
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  • Bio

      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

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 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.

  • mojo

    What kinda flys do ya catch with that thing?

  • gregbo

    Wow! John Locke rises from the grave and gives a crap about Charlie Rangel? Guess I won’t have to wade through those old tomes afterall.

  • pabarge


    I just went and bought this: