Jed, I refer you back to my first response to Quin yesterday: "(Hastert) doesn't get it. The issue isn't about when he knew about e-mails, IMs, or when and whether he did or didn't decide to do something about them. The issue is that the Foley disaster represents one more in the long list of ethical breaches (Cunningham, Ney, Abramoff, etc.) on his watch, not to mention the abominations of legislation...." It's not just this one thing; it's the pattern of things.
The Spectacle Blog
Paul: You're enormously overheated on the Hastert issue. There's no proof -- even alleged -- that Hastert knew about "attempted pedophilia." Why the panic?
The 527 Media have made this a story, and people who keep going on it are playing into their hands. Booting Hastert now does the same, and corrects nothing. Part of leadership is taking the heat. And part of campaigning is keeping your head when your adversary wants you to lose it. You may not believe that dumping Hastert -- before any proof of culpability -- would help the Dems. But that doesn't prove it false.
Leaders are supposed to lead. They set the tone for how their organization is to be run. They establish their expectations of what their organizations' moral and ethical standards should be and expect everyone to follow them.
Have you ever heard out of Hastert's mouth "this is the way it's going to be and we will tolerate no less," or words to that effect? Have you heard him make any bold statements against ethical breaches, self-serving pork, or any of the other crap that has taken root under GOP control -- at least any the media has latched on to? Yeah, he's supposedly "taking responsibility" for the Foley lapse, but what the heck does that really mean? Calling for an investigation? Big step! And as far as Hastert condemning it...gee, that's really stepping out bravely when one of your soldiers has been hitting on teenagers.
Sure, Hastert is probably personally ethical (as much as anybody who has to compromise with Democrats on laws is capable of doing)...nice guy...former wrestling coach...but does training grapplers make you qualified for one of the three or four most important leadership posts in the country?
A guest commentator for Canada Free Press absolutely nails the current dilemma here.
John Burtis, a retired firefighter and cop, writes:
"Shortly after Bill Clinton was sworn in as President, the Democratic Party became nothing more than a single arm of the growing parasitic Clinton octopus.a'
And he absolutely nails it. Read it all.
Whoa, gents. What did you want Hastert to do? Turn the whole thing over to Barney Frank? Apologize, with quivering lip, as Lil' Billy would've? He did what he had to do: take responsibility, order up a slew of investigations, and not commit ritual seppuku to please ABC news. I have no real desire to see Hastert continue as speaker, except if the choice is him or Pelosi.
If we're going to throw Hastert to the media sharks, we're nuts. If we do that, he'll be followed by every other Republican leader. On the other hand, we should rid ourselves of him for the right reasons.
I've sat there listening to Hastert explain why earmarks and pork-barrelling are the way Congress shows its constituents it's working for them. I'm sick of him and all who sail with him. By all means, let's get someone in that job who can actually cut government spending. But let's not throw our lot in with the 527 Media who want to blow this whole election.
The Republicans don't deserve to win. But we don't deserve what will happen if they lose.
Paul -- Thanks for your thoughtful and highly lucid response below, re Hastert. I was particularly disappointed in Cheney's statements -- from both the standpoint of its substance AND its politics. The LAST thing the White House needs to do is to associate itself with Hastert right now. That just inserts Bush and Cheney into a story they should be staying away from. They don't have to actively work to oust Hastert, but fergoshsakes, they should just back off and let the chips fall where they may.
Meanwhile, for those in the DC area, the local Fox affiliate is gonna interview me in a few minutes, I guess for use on its 11 pm newscast, on the political ramifications of this whole sad case. Anybody who wants to watch, please do, and don't hesitate to send in feedback tomorrow. Thanks.
Quin, I missed Hastert's press conference but I'm not surprised in the least nor do I doubt your assessment of it. He doesn't get it. The issue isn't about when he knew about e-mails, IMs, or when and whether he did or didn't decide to do something about them. The issue is that the Foley disaster represents one more in the long list of ethical breaches (Cunningham, Ney, Abramoff, etc.) on his watch, not to mention the abominations of legislation (like the prescription drug program, earmarks, No Child Left Behind, etc.) that he has pushed through his chamber. In short, it's an absence of leadership, and if the buck truly stops with him as he says, he should step down.
More evidence that Hastert and other Republicans don't get it (courtesy links from Drudge):
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?
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.