Tuesday, October 03, 2006
First let's start with a quote from May 18, 2005:
"We're playing Russian Roulette with our children's lives. We need to stop these predators now."
That was scandal-plagued former Rep. Mark Foley speaking to reporters just a year before his Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which created a national sex-crimes registry and increased penalties for such crimes against children, was passed into law. For Republicans, it only goes downhill from there.
In a year which saw the GOP continuously rocked by corruption, where Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney have been forced to give up their House seats and where Jack Abramoff and Scooter Libby and others kept Republicans running for cover, the Foley scandal is adding a new layer of sewage to an already putrid party. The stink is so bad it can kill ya.
But Foley's not the only guilty party in this sorry mess. What's taking place in Washington right now is utterly despicable and a disgrace. GOP surrogates in the media such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity bring up news from almost 25 years ago--the 1983 sex scandals involving former Congressmen Gerry Studds (D) and Dan Crane (R) and underage pages--as if in some way it mitigates Foley's behavior and Hastert & Co.'s ensuing cover-up. Hey Sean, didn't your mama ever tell you two wrongs don't make a right?
We have the Republican leadership, as well as those involved in this cover-up--including Speaker Hastert (ILL), Majority Leader John Boehner (OH), and Rep. John Shimkus (ILL) chair of the Page Board--engaged in a round-robin of finger-pointing, with Hastert blaming Shimkus and Shimkus and Boehner blaming Hastert.
We have Hastert claiming he cannot remember if Rep. Tom Reynolds (NY), Shimkus and/or Boehner ever told him about the inappropriate Foley emails earlier in the year. On Tuesday Hastert, incredibly, said that he likely doesn't remember being told of the Foley scandal because he was probably informed of the situation at the end of a long list of legislative items. How about them apples? Perhaps the conversation with Boehner that day went something like this:
Boehner: Mr. Speaker, there's a number of very pressing issues me, Blunt, Reynolds and Shimkus need to discuss with you.
Hastert: Ok, Johnny-boy, you know I'm a busy man, so shoot....
Boehner: Well, we got the last vote needed on that $20-million highway reconstruction bill for Illinois. We also have that Immigration press conference set up for Tuesday with you and the president. There's also that hearing on the NSA wiretaps, and, oh, we've gotten complaints from a 16-year-old former page and his parents that Rep. Foley's been sending perverted emails to the boy.
Hastert: Immigration, yeah, big issue. Foley? Really? No shit! I guess we should look into that? Oh, make sure we get some 8x10's from that photo op with Bush. And let's meet next week to discuss status.
Hastert also claims that what he initially saw months ago didn't necessarily seem that inappropriate (a 52 year-old man flirting online with a 16-year-old boy, complimenting the body of another page, and then asking for an email photo isn't inappropriate?). If that's the case, why did he and Shimkus warn Foley not to talk to the boy again? Who the hell does Hastert think he's fooling? His self-defense so far is a colossal insult to every American. He's been lying so much that his head deserves to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue like a bowling ball.
We have White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, demonstrating gross insensitivity and lack of comprehension of the severity of the charges, referring to Foley's salacious communications as "naughty emails."
We also have the president on Tuesday coming to the defense of Hastert, much in the same way Bush typically lavishes praise on those who are completely inept (Michael Brown, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, etc). "I know Denny Hastert. I meet with him a lot. He is a father, teacher, coach who cares about the children of this country. I know that he wants all the facts to come out...and he wants to ensure that these children up there on Capitol Hill are protected. I'm confident he will provide whatever leadership he can to law enforcement in this investigation." Denny, you're doing a heck of a job.
We have Foley himself, who this week officially kicked-off his trial in the court of public opinion by announcing his alleged alcoholism (although no one in D.C. ever remembers the guy even a little tipsy), his homosexuality, and the bombshell that he was molested by a clergyman when he was 13-15 years old. Awww...poor Foley. What's most repulsive about this guy is that he's now trying to play the victim and disease cards. The words of that former page really ring true: Sick, sick, sick. With his political troubles behind him, he's clearly laying the groundwork for his future legal defense.
So what happens now? With the midterm elections just 34 days away, the Foley scandal has explosive consequences. The GOP was in trouble enough prior to the news breaking on this story, and the stakes were already high. Republicans have been afraid that if the Democrats retake the House and/or Senate, that leaves them and Bush open to extensive investigations into illegal wiretappings, torture and war crimes, the manipulation of pre-war intelligence, and also exposes Bush to the threat of impeachment. Well, the stakes just got even higher. Should Democrats regain control of the House, key Republicans--Hastert, Boehner, Roy Blunt, Reynolds, Shimkus, etc--face intense investigation into who knew what and when regarding Foley. Could criminal charges be next?
And what role will Christian conservatives play come November? Will they do the right thing and finally abandon the party that claimed to be the great bastion of morality and family values? Or will they too choose politics over priority and throw their weight to the GOP once again?
This is history in the making, folks. A political shitstorm of epic proportions. A story with great legs that will carry it into November.