Washington as ‘Our Town’: Dad’s Replacing Rangel

Larger-than-life Washington is sometimes set on a small stage.

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By Jamie Stiehm, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

So there I was on the Wisconsin Avenue bus late Wednesday on just another ride home in the Northwest neighborhood. Nearby was a good-looking man about my age and I couldn't help hearing his conversation--conducted by cell phone, I might add. "Yeah, Dad is going to be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee," he said clearly enough for all to hear. This being Washington, that registered like political lightning. Wow, so the wily, likeable New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel was gone from the premium real estate on the House side of the Hill.

So who did this guy on the bus look like? Was he for real? Yes, he looked and sounded the part of a congressman's son. Turned out my private scoop was right: In another news cycle, Sander M. Levin, a Michigan Democrat, was appointed acting chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the wake of ethics questions surrounding Rangel.

The 78-year-old Levin must be a mensch if he's anything like his younger brother Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee and the Senator from Swarthmore, as I like to call him. (He is the only senator from our alma mater.)

Here's the thing: Washington can seem larger than life, a place where sophisticates feel at home and sordid things happen all the time. But yet I still see it, now and then, as Our Town, on a stage set small enough to hear stuff like that. It's nice to know these things first.

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