Charlie Rangel, the New York Democrat facing charges of unethical behavior, took to the House floor Tuesday to give a defiant, if somewhat long-winded message to his critics. In his 37-minute speech, Rangel reaffirmed his pledge not to retire. "If I was you I might want me to go away too," he said. "I'm not going away." He asked for his trial to be expedited, so that it would take place before autumn. "Don't leave me hanging in the wind until November," he said. Rangel is accused of 13 violations of House ethics rules, and a drawn-out trial in September and October could harm his party's odds in the midterm elections. Rangel's unprecedented "political theatrics" backfired badly, says Andrea Tantaros at Fox News. His "often incoherent" speech was self-pitying and arrogant. He couldn't have sent a "worse message" to voters. It wasn't that bad, says Dan Amira in New York. Rangel was by turns defiant, apologetic, and hilarious. He wasn't asking for "leniency," he just wants this over with so he can "clear his name or face his punishment." Still, his "unwillingness to step aside" will hurt the Democrats nationally, says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post, and could destroy them completely in New York's congressional races. "If you have not seen [the speech], you must — we repeat — must." Here are highlights:
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