Sunday, October 01, 2006


Turning The G.O.Page

With a weekend that began last Thursday with a Bachelor party in Toronto and headed with Homecoming at St. John's College in Annapolis, there has been little time for blogging. (Thank you, Ed, for your cogent and exhaustive T.O coverage).

It was a bad time to be somewhat out of touch, given the big news out of Washington. Rather than play catch-up on the
Mark Foley scandal, for the time being, I'd just like to associate myself with every word that my friend Doug Bandow has to say on the topic:
First, the fact that Speaker Hastert did nothing reinforces the image of a leadership that cares only about protecting itself, even if teenage pages are at risk. The explanation that the Speaker was only aware of the most benign sounding emails is no excuse: even the most benign-sounding weren't benign.

Congressmen rarely, if ever, have informal, social contact with their own pages, let alone those of other members. The wall of separation is even higher after the scandals of a quarter century ago involving members of both parties.

Second, there was no reason to believe that contact was limited to "overly friendly," but largely benign, messages to one page. Rep. Foley was widely thought to be gay. He is not the only homosexual in Congress, and his sexuality alone was appropriately of no interest to Congress (or, apparently, to his constituents). But for an older gay member to appear to be hitting on an underage page should have set off alarm bells even in the offices of GOP leaders used to running the institution without accountability. They had an obligation to make sure that there were no more cases, and to threaten sufficient sanctions to ensure that no such contacts occurred again. They appear to have failed on both counts.

Third, this episode confirms the widely held belief that the Republican majority is corrupt, arrogant, deceptive, and out of touch. Voters can forgive many things, but not leaders so concerned about preserving their own power that they do nothing to protect children under their care. The charges and counter-charges over Iraq and terrorism might be confusing. Not Foleygate. People will easily understand what went wrong here, and it is likely to move a handful of voters, just enough, in my view, to guarantee a Democratic House.

Fourth, GOP members, especially those holding vulnerable seats, will be the first to sense any shift in the public mood back home, where they all are headed, now that Congress has gone out. And if the news is bad--stoked by a growing sense of outrage if more kids were contacted by Foley, and especially if anything physical happened--then they will do anything necessary to save themselves. Just as Jonah was tossed overboard by his shipmates, the Republican majority may defenestrate Hastert from his fancy office.
Doug's entire post is dead solid perfect.

I will add one other point: Republicans have to fear how the phrase "Security begins at home" will resonate over the next five weeks. And by "home," the Democrats won't be just talking about "the homeland." Foley's gone. Hastert's toast -- and he may bring down the entire House around him.

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