Cheat-Seeking Missles

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Page Turner

What a morning on the Foley story!

The Washington Times, usually the lockstepper of GOP politics, has called for Speaker Hastert's resignation:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which can make the same claim as a bellweather of GOP leanings, raises a shut up and fight argument:
What next was Mr. Hastert supposed to do with an elected Congressman? Assume that Mr. Foley was a potential sexual predator and bar him from having any private communication with pages? Refer him to the Ethics Committee? In retrospect, barring contact with pages would have been wise.

But in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert's head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys.
And the facts are in dispute, as the Palm Beach Post uncovers that the ABC report that pages had been warned about Foley is untrue:

At least one former congressional page is disputing another former page's claims that pages were warned five years ago to beware of U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fort Pierce.

Matthew Loraditch, a page in the 2001-2002 class, told ABC News he and other pages were warned about Foley by a supervisor in the House Clerk's office. Loraditch, the president of the Page Alumni Association, said the pages were told "don't get too wrapped up in him being too nice to you and all that kind of stuff."

Loraditch's statement said: ... "I can assure you [saying we were warned] was not intended. The fact of the matter is in an informal situation a supervisor mentioned that Foley was a bit odd or flaky and did not connote by tone or otherwise that he should be avoided.

Obviously, more facts, poor decisions, and attempts to exploit the situation will come to light. But as to Hastert, Joshua Micha Marshall at Talking Points Memo may have defined the nail for his coffin:
Yet all of us can only be who we are. He could have said that [he messed up]. But he didn't. I suspect because he's the same guy who let Foley run unchecked for years, presided over a regime that enabled him, like so much else. It was in character.
There is no time to dwaddle here. Either GOP leadership decides to stick with Hastert, or they decided to dump him; the decision must be made quickly because there are more important things at stake than Hastert's reputation or Foley's fate.

It's called a mid-term election. And for that reason, the better decision, with the facts as we know them now, is for Hastert to not be the same guy he's been and offer his resignation. If he does, it should be accepted.

If he doesn't, that's another story because another public GOP fight before the election would be bad, very bad.

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