Even though his 80th birthday was June 11, Harlem congressman Charlie Rangel is only getting around to celebrating it next week with a lavish bash (and fund-raiser) in the main ballroom at the Plaza Hotel. Under normal circumstances, you would expect that guests would have to have some kind of extremely important conflict for them not to attend, as Rangel has been a mainstay in New York’s political establishment for decades, and this is a huge milestone for him. But these are not normal circumstances. With an ethics trial looming, Rangel has become politically toxic for some particularly skittish pols. And that means you don’t need a convincing reason not to attend his party. You just need an excuse.
And boy, are these excuses terrible. No classic bad excuses have been left behind. There’s “unavoidably out-of-town” excuse:
[Congresswoman Carolyn] Maloney let it be known she would not attend, citing a family commitment in Virginia. “I wish I could be at his birthday party,” Ms. Maloney said in an interview, adding that her plans to skip the event had nothing to do with the ethics charges….
There’s the less convincing “out-of-town but still right next to town” excuse:
There’s the “I have to go to this parade” excuse:
[Congressman John D. Hall] said he would appear at a high-profile event in his district that day: the Fire Department parade in South Salem, a hamlet of 7,000 people.
There’s the vaguely very busy excuse:
And of course, there’s the old “I broke my ribs” excuse:
Legendary songstress Aretha Franklin — who hastily scrubbed two free Brooklyn shows on Tuesday citing an unspecified injury — finally put out a statement this morning that explained that she suffered fractured ribs and pain in the abdomen due to a fall on Sunday.
Okay, we doubt that Aretha faked her injury just to miss Rangel’s party. The Queen of Soul does not need to worry about elections. Coups, yes — but not elections.