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Can Hastert survive?
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A lot of things to discuss.

The other day I called Foley's announcement of an alcohol problem and his admission into a rehab program almost "pro-forma" for these sorts of things. Speaking of pro-forma, I wasn't at all surprised then when he claimed to have been molested as a boy by a member of the clergy.

But to Denny Hastert. Full disclosure: I am not a Denny Hastert fan. I've always considered him to be a weak leader and a less than impressive politician. He was a third choice and a poor third choice in my estimation. He is an example of why systems primarily based in seniority instead of ability and leadership really don't serve the people well.

That, however, is not enough to call for his resignation, since it is a systemic problem and not just his problem.

However it leads to his problem. Inept and ineffective leadership. I can't help but feel that Hastart is more concerned with the privileges and perks of Congress than he is with doing the right thing.

This was never more evident than with the William Jefferson raid. Hastart backed a corrupt legislator over the rule of law and, frankly, threw an unseemly tantrum concerning the raid on Jefferson's Capital hill office. For me it was the straw that broke the camel's back. As I said, never a fan of Hastarts to begin with, when he decided that the imagined perks and privileges (what he claimed certainly wasn't evident in any copy of the Constitution I've read) were more important than enforcing the law and ridding Congress of a corrupt lawmaker, I was done with him for good.

The Foley debacle has only reinforced that feeling. So does this little revelation:
But even as Hastert pushed back against criticism that he had failed to act aggressively enough to deal with Foley after an initial report of an e-mail exchange between Foley and a page, there were signs of continued tension within the House leadership team.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the majority leader, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he discussed Foley's communication with a page with Hastert last spring, joining Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds of New York in insisting they raised the matter directly with Hastert. Hastert has said he has no recollection of it.

Boehner said resolving the matter was Hastert's responsibility.

"I believe I told the speaker and he told me it has been taken care of," Boehner told a Cincinnati radio station. "In my position, it is in his corner, it is his responsibility."
Now you may want to write that off as Boehner throwing Hastart under the bus for political reasons, however, I find it, given Hastart's poor leadership, to be entirely plausible.

Obviously Hastart doesn't want to resign now as politically such a move would all but doom the Republicans chances of retaining the House. That may be. But then it may be doomed already and, in that case, it would make his resignation a moot point. So while I really have no use for Hastart, I'm willing to wait until Nov. 3rd to again call for his resignation if necessary. In reality I don't think it will be.
 
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I heard an interview with Hastert yesterday, and I was amazed at how much he didn’t get it. Frankly, if he had shown real concern, talked about how he has kids, comment that he was going over what he knew and wondering what he could have done differently and why he didn’t see the seriousness of Foley’s condition, I’d have had sympathy for him. He could have talked about how as a teacher and coach he understands the danger individuals like Foley create for children and teens. That is what the country needed to hear.

Instead he went off on a campaign commercial, talking about taxes, security, and even hinting in an unsubstantiated charge that the Democrats timed this. Look, there is a time for campaign commercials, and if there was a Democratic plot, that should come out, and people can talk about that possibility. But not in interviews right now from the House Speaker. His style that shows that he’s treating this as political damage control and isn’t connecting with the issue in a way that shows human compassion. He really handled this in an inept manner. (His interviewer, Sean Hannity, was even more bizarre, trying to bring up a scandal from a different generation of Democrats nearly 25 years ago to suggest that somehow the outrage over Foley isn’t real — if you have to go back a quarter of a century to find something comparable from the Democrats, that’s pretty pathetic, and I suspect both Republicans and Democrats look at issues involving minors differently than in the early eighties!)

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
I’m with you McQ. Hastert, more than anyone, is responsible for the utter failure of this House to get anything of consequence done. He should go, but not because of this incident.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
No, the outrage from certain quarters is typical, hypocritical partisan sniping.

To be fair, many sexual predators (if that is what Foley is) are victims of previous abuse. So, it may very well be that he had been abused as a teenager. It’s not an excuse, and from what I read, he wasn’t trying to make it one.

Hastert hasn’t been a very capable leader. That, in and of itself, is reason enough for him to step down. But who would be more capable to fill the role he has?

Also, does anyone know if there’s a Libertarian candidate in Foleys district?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://
Well Scott it IS political...it was only TEN YEARS ago that Studds retired...after ACTUALLY SLEEPING WITH A 17 Y.O. PAGE. Nobody called on Rep. Studds (D) to resign, from his party, in fact he argued and they accepted that what happened in his bed room was HIS business-to be fair the voters agreed. So for Democrats to suddenly be "outraged" is a bit silly, don’t you think.

Plus the fact that the NYT has been sitting on these messages really makes one think that this is less about the "Chil’ren" and more about the ELECTIONS.

Now I think your tactical points are well made about HOW Hastert deals with this, but talking about the Democratic alternative IS valid. "Let’s get rid of Hastert, so we can have Pelosi!" REALLY??? That makes sense?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Only ten years ago! If you have to draw on transgressions that happened 23 years ago to a member out of Congress for ten years, that is a pretty weak defense. There was no internet or Fox News in 1982 to fan outrage; comparing two different eras is the height in stupidity, but go ahead, it only helps the Democrats when the GOP keeps saying "what about Gerry Studds?" Why not throw Huey Long into the argument too.
 
Written By: william
URL: http://

Well Scott it IS political...it was only TEN YEARS ago that Studds retired...after ACTUALLY SLEEPING WITH A 17 Y.O. PAGE. Nobody called on Rep. Studds (D) to resign, from his party, in fact he argued and they accepted that what happened in his bed room was HIS business-to be fair the voters agreed. So for Democrats to suddenly be "outraged" is a bit silly, don’t you think.
Although he retired ten years ago, the case was nearly a quarter century ago, and one can’t assume that today’s Democrats would respond the same way. But that raises a question: how long is a scandal ’fair game’ to attack another party? Attacking other individuals probably has a longer shelf life, e.g, North on Iran-Contra, Clinton on Lewinsky, Kennedy on Chapaquitick or however you spell it, etc. But how long is a scandal fair game to use against a political party?

Now I think your tactical points are well made about HOW Hastert deals with this, but talking about the Democratic alternative IS valid. "Let’s get rid of Hastert, so we can have Pelosi!" REALLY??? That makes sense?
I was specific in addressing tactics, and didn’t even discuss the resignation issue. I also noted that there is a time for campaign commercials, but Hastert’s interviews yesterday were not the time. But who knows — Nancy Pelosi might, if given the chance, turn out to be a really good Speaker of the House! Most people aren’t going to vote in their local races because of her at this point; most people don’t know who she is or really care about who becomes speaker.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
Although he retired ten years ago, the case was nearly a quarter century ago, and one can’t assume that today’s Democrats would respond the same way. But that raises a question: how long is a scandal ’fair game’ to attack another party? Attacking other individuals probably has a longer shelf life, e.g, North on Iran-Contra, Clinton on Lewinsky, Kennedy on Chapaquitick or however you spell it, etc. But how long is a scandal fair game to use against a political party?
It’s not length of time, it’s what you did and said THEN versus today...IF the Republicans said ANY e-mails or communications between members and pages was WRONG, much less sex, THEN they have some ’splain’n to do...As the Democrats didn’t object to Studds TAKING THE PAGE TO MOROCCO FOR A VACATION, it is difficult understand their "outrage" over e-mails that, as far as we know, resulted IN NO SEX. How far back? I don’t know, depends on the case...detainees, then yes we can go back to FDR, it’s the LAST time it was relevant. Inappropriate behavior with pages, let’s go back tot he last time it happened.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Past issues on EITHER side are of zero consequence in this matter. The fact is that this sicko should not in any way be protected. Foley threw himself under the bus and the republicans need to let him stay there and all in all turn their backs on him.

Noone should be controling the "damage", thats stupid. Hastert mocks me by thinking that the actions of one idiot will sully the reputation of the conservative ideals. There are bad people in every group, smart people understand this and will look to the reactions of leaders of said group before making a decision on the whole. (I.E. Muslim leaders not speaking out about the extremeists dirties the reputation of Islam)
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
Although he retired ten years ago, the case was nearly a quarter century ago, and one can’t assume that today’s Democrats would respond the same way. But that raises a question: how long is a scandal ’fair game’ to attack another party? Attacking other individuals probably has a longer shelf life, e.g, North on Iran-Contra, Clinton on Lewinsky, Kennedy on Chapaquitick or however you spell it, etc. But how long is a scandal fair game to use against a political party?
It’s not length of time, it’s what you did and said THEN versus today...IF the Republicans said ANY e-mails or communications between members and pages was WRONG, much less sex, THEN they have some ’splain’n to do...As the Democrats didn’t object to Studds TAKING THE PAGE TO MOROCCO FOR A VACATION, it is difficult understand their "outrage" over e-mails that, as far as we know, resulted IN NO SEX. How far back? I don’t know, depends on the case...detainees, then yes we can go back to FDR, it’s the LAST time it was relevant. Inappropriate behavior with pages, let’s go back tot he last time it happened.
OK, note the collective "you." That means, in this case, Democrats who in 1983 said or did something in response to that scandal. They should be held accountable. But what about Democrats who weren’t politically active in 1983, never heard of Studds, or didn’t take a stand on that issue. They can’t be held accountable for what Democrats no longer in Congress said or did, can they? (If I recall right - and in 1983 I was a staff member for a Republican Senator in Washington DC - there was a Republican member involved in a similar scandal and he also wasn’t booted from the party or Congress...I’ll have to look into that when I have time, my memory is hazy...)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
I heard an interview with Hastert yesterday, and I was amazed at how much he didn’t get it.
A common problem in those who have been assimilated by the Beltway collective.

I think firing him might be a short term blow, perhaps even a decisive factor in losing the House, but I still think it’s what the GOP needs to do. Until they change the character of their leadership, they will continue to flounder. With Frist retiring and if Hastert is relieved of duty, this is a golden time to do so.

But, as the old psychiatrist-and-light-bulb joke goes, they have to really want to change. And it’s pretty clear that they don’t. They’ve talked themselves into believing that their current floundering is the best they can do.

Hastert probably sits around his office, bemoaning the fact that he’s a mere victim of circumstance. How did such a boob rise to become Speaker of the House in the first place?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I guess it’s fun to be talking about who did something to someone else whenever. But, unless pretty clear contradictions can be shown, I think it’s a pointless discussion to have.

Politicians are always going to say what makes them look good and their opponents look bad right now. It’s what they do.

Consistency has no place in this game, as far as they are concerned. Their main, often their only, goal is to win the next election.

This is true of the entire political class, which includes much of the media. The NYT is as disingenuous as any politician, and just as excited about seeing the Democrats win as any member of the DNC.

Sometimes there is clear overreach. When the feminists defended behavior from Clinton that was virtually identical to behavior they comdemned in corporate CEOs, it’s worthwhile to point out that partisanship wins over principle for said feminists.

But we already know that partisanship wins over principle for nine out of ten people in Congress. Keeping this discussion burning plays right into these folks’ hands. It avoids talking about real issues, which they don’t want to talk about anyway because they might actually have to take a stand.

I wrote an essay a couple of weeks ago about why I don’t much care anymore who wins this election. Ironically, I’m so put off by the whole situation that I don’t care much about finishing the essay either.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Nancy Pelosi might, if given the chance, turn out to be a really good Speaker of the House!


Seems a bad bet to me.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Hmmm
I wonder when the media will remind us of former Congressman Gerry Eastman Studds - ah, but probably not, see, he was a Democrat, and that was years and years ago, and besides he actually HAD a sexual relationship with a male page.

That was then, this is now I guess. We’re much less open in society than we were in those days. He only went on to serve another 5 terms after his censure for behavior, that, as he put it, was ’nobody’s business but their own’.
But that was 1983 when the Rethuglicans didn’t control Congress.

On the good news front, I’d like to see Hastert out of line for the Presidency all together. Course putting Pelosi in his place isn’t what I had in mind either.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Politicians are always going to say what makes them look good and their opponents look bad right now. It’s what they do.

Consistency has no place in this game, as far as they are concerned. Their main, often their only, goal is to win the next election.

This is true of the entire political class, which includes much of the media. The NYT is as disingenuous as any politician, and just as excited about seeing the Democrats win as any member of the DNC.

I mostly agree with this. At least, I wouldn’t often bet against it.
I wrote an essay a couple of weeks ago about why I don’t much care anymore who wins this election.
I’m not ready to go so far as to say that the nation’s policies will be the same no matter who wins, though. I didn’t believe it when Nader said it, either.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I sure am screwin’ up these blockquote tabs on a regular basis.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I’m not ready to go so far as to say that the nation’s policies will be the same no matter who wins, though.
I didn’t mean to imply that I think that, either. What I mean is that the medium term aggregate results won’t be that much better or worse no matter which side wins.

First, let’s assume the Republicans keep control. In that case, the Democrats have suffered a serious blow. They’ve lost so many in a row, against increasingly inept opposition, that I think it will either result in a serious attempt to restructure along moderate lines, or balkanization of the party. There is already a lot of centrifugal force among the special interest groups in the party, with unions at odds with enviros, the education lobby at odds with inner city blacks, Jewish voters who support Israel at odds with leftists who support the Palestinians, etc. If one significant interest group bails on the Democrats, there’s no telling where the damage will stop.

Next, let’s assume the Democrats gain control. Then the GOP learns that you can’t continue to win elections by abandoning your core principles and being sucked into the Beltway mentality. The Democrats actually have to govern instead of snipe and carp all the time, which hopefully will help them grow up, or if not, they’ll lose big time in 2008.

And there’s a limit to how much serious damage the Democrats can do if they act like adults. They won’t spend any more than the Republicans because they’ll have to wrangle with Bush over the budget. If they get the Senate, or even get close, they might hold up a future Supreme Court confirmation, but if Bush has any sense he’ll stand firm and the Democrats will just look like obstructionists.

If they act like children and just try to break everything in sight, I believe they’ll pay a heavy price. Pelosi and company may very well try that approach (John Conyers is straining at the bit), but they’ll just look silly to everyone but New York City liberals.

So I’m looking at the likely outcomes and pretty much thinking it’s a wash. Both parties need shaking up, and one is guaranteed to get some motivation to do so.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Scott,

Several Democrats who were in Congress in 1983 are still in Congress, and are now acting differently, so it is completely relevant. Not to mention the whole MOVEON.ORG business with Clinton.

I thought Dems claimed they had integrity and disliked playing the gay card. But I guess I was wrong.



 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Several Democrats who were in Congress in 1983 are still in Congress, and are now acting differently, so it is completely relevant. Not to mention the whole MOVEON.ORG business with Clinton.
Then it applies to those Democrats who might have taken a different tack in 1983. That’s not the whole party (and again, there was a similar GOP scandal that year which ended in censure — why is nobody talking about that)? I’m not sure what moveon.org or Clinton have to do with this.

I thought Dems claimed they had integrity and disliked playing the gay card. But I guess I was wrong.
Where are they playing that? Does it matter that these were under age boys and not under age girls? Trying to turn this around against the Democrats just won’t work, except, perhaps, to keep the GOP base motivated. Overall this is a minor story, I doubt it will change many votes. For the GOP the issue is "how do you handle this," and my argument is that they have handled it poorly in large part because they are locked in political thinking and have reacted in accord with political strategy — that doesn’t play well to most people.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
and again, there was a similar GOP scandal that year which ended in censure — why is nobody talking about that)?
that would be the same scandal Studds was involved in - which resulted in Dan Crane losing the subsequent election, and Studds going on for another 5 terms.

Crane - Republican - censured and thrown out of office by his constituents.
Heterosexual consensual sex with a 17 year old

Studds - Democrat - re-elected by his constituents for another 5 terms.
Homosexual consensual sex with a 17 year old

And you wonder why no one is talking about it?

Also, kind of amusing - someone, just yesterday, edited Crane’s Wikipedia entry and removed the reference to the page scandal -
Here’s the piece removed
After his 1982 re-election, he was implicated along with Rep. [[Gerry Studds]] in the [[1983 Congressional page sex scandal]]. Crane was accused of having a consensual sexual relationship in [[1980]] with a 17-year-old female [[congressional page]] and was censured by the House in 1983. Crane admitted to the charge and issued profuse, tearful apologies. (See [[1983 Congressional page sex scandal]]). He was defeated for re-election in 1984.

"Tearful apologies" (and I remember this)

Studds, hah....

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Scott,

Move On org’s purpose in life was to say that Clinton’s activities were not important and we should move one...why would they not say the same thing about Foley, who is even less important, and so far guilty of IM and not sex?

Dems often accuse the GOP of hypocrisy (and rightfully so) in this case, we could easily compare 1983 members then and now, to see how they stack up themselves.

Yes, I agree with you its a minor story. No, it doesn’t matter that its a boy or girl.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
that would be the same scandal Studds was involved in - which resulted in Dan Crane losing the subsequent election, and Studds going on for another 5 terms.

Crane - Republican - censured and thrown out of office by his constituents.
Heterosexual consensual sex with a 17 year old

Studds - Democrat - re-elected by his constituents for another 5 terms.
Homosexual consensual sex with a 17 year old

And you wonder why no one is talking about it?
Whether or not they win re-election isn’t relevant — there your beef isn’t with the party, but with the constituents who voted for him. It does seem like neither the GOP nor the Democrats a quarter century ago were too upset about consensual sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual is irrelevant), they wanted to censure and not remove. They left it to the constituents to decide. So I think what we have is a different culture back then, and different standards. Certainly trying to bring this up to attack the Democrats today looks awfully silly.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm

Move On org’s purpose in life was to say that Clinton’s activities were not important and we should move one...why would they not say the same thing about Foley, who is even less important, and so far guilty of IM and not sex?
I didn’t know that was why they were called "move on" — interesting. Clinton’s activities were also disgusting, and one can make a strong argument that Clinton should have resigned.

At this point I sense that in a weird way this scandal is helping the GOP. If it weren’t for this, people would be talking about the spike in American deaths in Iraq, Woodward’s book, and questions about Iraq. That is the GOP weak point. I doubt this scandal is going to change anybody’s vote, and it certainly takes the discussion away from important stuff.
Dems often accuse the GOP of hypocrisy (and rightfully so) in this case, we could easily compare 1983 members then and now, to see how they stack up themselves.
That you could do — in both parties, to be sure. I also wonder what the right thing to do would have been if Foley had not resigned. It appears what he did wasn’t a crime and didn’t involve actual sex. Would it have been appropriate to kick him out (even if he had gotten re-elected)? I’ll give Foley credit for having done the right thing by resigning.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~blog.htm
Crane was NOT thrown out of office, he was voted out by the conservatives in his state.

Studds was re-elected, 5 more times, in a more liberal state.

If any laws were broken, it was Crane committing adultery. Crane was married, and a father. Studds was single and gay, a fact he admitted after the event.

The age of consent in D.C. was, and is 17 years old. Way too young in the opinions of many people, myself included, but still the legal age.
 
Written By: Curt
URL: http://
censured and thrown out of office by his constituents
Voted out.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

 
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