10/05/2006: Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is smoking something I wish were legal.
The House Speaker first claims to take responsibility for the House failure to catch Mark Foley (R-NAMBLA), whose sexually-laced messages to teenage pages go back at least a year if not longer, then refuses to resign his leadership post.
This is representative of everything that is wrong with the GOP.
Hastert doesn’t get it. This is not about whether what Hastert knew, or even when he knew it. From all accounts, Hastert is an otherwise upstanding citizen who cares deeply about kids.
On the other hand, he failed to exercise sufficient oversight to catch the abuses of people like Foley. Given that Foley’s actions are hardly unprecedented–Gerry Studds (D-MA) had a homosexual relationship with a page, and was censured–Hastert should have implemented more equitable controls. With Hastert, it’s not a sin of commission, but rather one of omission.
Republicans are correct in that the Democrats have no moral standing in this–note Pelosi’s support of the Studds scandal–but this is not about Democrats or Republicans: this is about the character of our leadership. This is irrespective of tax policy or spending policy.
The Democrats punted on family values a long time ago–as their continued support of murderers (Kennedy) and sexual predators (Studds, Reynolds) has continued unabated. Pelosi supported Studds five times as committee chairman, after he was convicted by the ethics committee for his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old page. Clinton pardoned Mel Reynolds, a convicted sex criminal.
Republicans are supposed to be the party of family values. If they don’t carry the torch, then who in the political class will?
Hastert needs to do the right thing. He needs to resign his post. It’s a matter of honor.