Good point, John. And lets face it, if it was all some sort of joke that didn't mean anything, why would Foley have resigned?
The Spectacle Blog
Frankly, I thought Hastert's press conference just now was obnoxious. He sounded exactly like a politician trying to change the subject, rather than a leader trying to right a wrong. He still doesn't "get it." He still gives evidence of an incredible arrogance of power. In trying to sound strong, he instead sounded almost breezy, not really concerned in his gut but instead just like he was trying to swat away a fly that was bothering him. He is a TERRIBLE symbol for the GOP. He should announce that he will serve out his term just to avoid unnecessary disruption, but that he will NOT stand for re-election as speaker. Only when he gets his large rump out of the way can conservatives have enough breathing room to turn the story around and fire back at the liberals on multiple fronts. Finally, I note that Hastert read the new Tip-line number incorrectly, reversing two digits...so anybody listening only, rather than watching the news screen that presented the correct number, would have reached the wrong number. That's not a moral or ethical fault, of course, but it's just one more example of how he can't get anything right.
Matt Drudge really hasn't distinguished himself this week. When you say the IMs were "a prank," it sounds like someone put them together as a joke, and that Foley didn't actually participate. Of course that's not at all what happened. Read the story, and all it says is that the page who was IM'ing with Foley wasn't actually gay, and was playing along with Foley's sick game just to laugh at the old perv. That really doesn't change anything important about the story-- but if you just read Drudge's headline, you might think that the whole scandal was a hoax. Let's nip this one before it confuses people as much as Drudge's last bit of reporting did.
Whether or not the page was 18 or 17, while obviously important for legal reasons, does not change anything ethically. As far as I'm concerned, Foley's actions were disgusting because they were about abusing power and taking advantage of his position as a congressman.
Be careful of making too much of Drudge's reporting today. One of the lurid IM exchanges took place after the page was over 18. But another one clearly didn't (there is, in fact, a line where the page warns Foley that he's not 18 yet, and Foley responds that he's "just dreaming"). As NewsBusters notes, ABC has changed the wording of its story to reflect this (it now says the IMs that it has were with "two different boys who began their exchanges with Foley at the age of 16 and 17, and continued through the age of 18").
Since Glenn Reynolds seems to think that Drudge's story says all of the IMs took place when the page was 18, I guess this needs clarifying. (UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, Glenn's already amended that post.)
The AP reports:
— The United States passed a warning to WASHINGTON not to conduct a nuclear test, the chief North Korea envoy to stalled disarmament talks with the communist country said Wednesday. "We are not going to live with a nuclear U.S. ," he said. North Korea
Boy, that's a huge relief. I was under the mistaken impression that we were living with a nuclear North Korea.