Tuesday, October 03, 2006



I received an e-mail from a DC-based Republican that underscores the real trouble that the House GOP leadership -- and by extension, the congressional majority -- faces. This Republican is a Capitol Hill veteran who stays in touch with old associates:

It [troubles] me that [GOP defenders] kept referring back to Gerry Studs. While Studds is disturbing and the Democratic response was even more so, that was 24 years ago. The pages in question now were not even a twinkle in their parents eye at that point.

[At] lunch with some friends on the Hill today...they [were] pretty livid with the leadership. Everyone I have talked to agrees that this is 100 times worse than Abramoff or Cunningham - people expect Congressmen to be corrupt, they do not expect them to be pedophiles. Also, no one is buying the "well,
what we saw did not seem so bad and we did not see the IM" bit.
That's the problem -- of the sort that can turn a close election into a blow out: On the one hand, an opposition party that is fired up to motivate their base and the other party's base is completely demoralized. That was a fear well before the Foley crisis, but this could be the straw that broke the Republican majority's back.

UPDATE: The Washington Times recognizes the stakes -- and urges Dennis Hastert to do the right thing. The fact that the editorial page editor of the Times was once press secretary to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (indeed, the man who hired me for the job writing in the office), Tony Blankley is significant. No, it doesn't mean that Tony is doing Newt's bidding via the editorial pages (indeed, Newt's response on Sunday was remarkably forgiving of the leadership's decisions -- though he may not have had all the information at hand).

Tony is very well-connected on Capitol Hill himself and is friends with many GOP members. If anything, this editorial signals that Hastert has lost the support of the Washington Republican establishment. The only thing that can stop a complete Republican train wreck in November is the departure of a real heavyweight. That means Mr. Hastert must go.

UPDATE II: Americablog is, of course, very liberal and is clearly no fan of Republicans. Still, they make some good points about the culpability of the GOP leadership in this sordid story, beyond Hastert:

But this is absurd.

The final point is a bit over the top. It wasn't much of a secret that Foley was gay (heck, I heard about that when I was working on the Hill ten years ago). That doesn't automatically mean that every GOP member should have known about Foley's proclivity for young men (in the same way that a straight politician might be known as a "player," but it might not be widely known that he has an eye for high school cheerleaders). Still, the scandal certainly taints all House Republicans as it is. It wouldn't be a surprise if local newspapers will be asking their local member about what they knew of Foley's behavior.

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