Monday, October 02, 2006
Hastert and Boehner 'Can't Remember' Discussing Foley's Pervy Email Follies. Who are these Two Liars Trying to Fool?
I ask incredulously, is it possible that the two top House Republicans cannot recall discussing the scandal surrounding Florida Rep. Mark Foley's salacious emails and Instant Messages to 16-year-old male pages? That's what Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader John Boehner would like us to believe. Is perversion and corruption so rampant in Washington GOP circles that it's hard for Hastert and Boehner to remember explosive cases like Foley's? Wouldn't you think that the Speaker of the House, and House Majority Leader, would have as a top of mind matter the legal and political consequences of an embarrassing sex scandal involving one of their own and underage boys?
According to Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY), he personally raised the issue with Hastert months ago. Yet the Speaker's office issued the following statement over the weekend: "While the speaker does not explicitly recall this conversation, he has no reason to dispute Congressman Reynolds' recollection that he reported to him on the problem and its resolution." Sure, I bet the conversation went something like this:
Reynolds: "Hey Denny, you're not gonna believe this. Ya know Foley...down in Florida? Been sending dirty emails and instant messages to some teenage boy who used to work for him. Parents are very upset. This could rock the House, Denny. Bad stuff if it gets out. Denny...?"
Hastert: "Ummm...oh...yeah, right. Bad stuff. Sure. Sorry. What was that again? Something bad happened to some kid in Florida?"
Reynolds: "Denny, are you listening to me? We have a gay congressman on our hands who's essentially been soliciting online sex from a minor. Are you grasping the gravity of this situation?"
Hastert: "Gravity, sure. Oh, it's bad stuff, Tom. Real bad. Will get right on it. Check back with me soon."
Of course, Hastert is no forgetful buffoon. But he is a liar. And so is Boehner, whose office said Saturday that months ago he had had a "brief, nonspecific" conversation about the subject with Rep Rodney Alexander (R-LA), for whom the boy worked, but that he couldn't recall with certainty whether he talked about it with other GOP leaders.
I guess these two pillars of House ethics must've been mentally consumed by Tom Delay's conspiracy scandal. Or Duke Cunningham's legal troubles. Or Bob Ney's impending implosion. So many scandals, so little memory capacity.
To be sure, the Republican leadership was well aware of the seriousness of this situation, and chose to keep it under wraps while letting the randy Congressman continue, unbelievably, in his role as Co-Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. (It's no small coincidence that sexually-harassing, child-molesting, pedophile freaks always seem to be involved in organizations involving children. They seek out those roles because that's where the kids are. These predators know all too well where to find their prey).
Hastert and Boehner aren't the only negligent ones among the GOP leadership. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Page Board, knew about the brewing scandal in late 2005. Shimkus confronted Foley, who assured him and the Clerk of the House at the time, Jeff Trandahl, that nothing inappropriate had occurred. "Congressman Shimkus and the clerk made it clear that to avoid even the appearance of impropriety and at the request of the parents, Congressman Foley was to immediately cease any communication with the young man," a statement from Hastert's office said.
So now to save political face and keep the party from further imploding, Hastert has requested that the Justice Department investigate whether Foley violated federal law by sending sexually explicit instant messages to at least one and possibly more teenage pages. The FBI has begun it's preliminary inquiry into the scandal.
But the bigger issue within the GOP is, who knew what and when. "It's now clear from all the reports coming in from across the country that the Republican leadership team has been well aware of this problem with the pages for well over a year," said Tim Mahoney, Foley's Democratic challenger. "It looks to me that it was more important to hold onto a seat and to hold onto power than to take care of our children."
Democrats are charging that Foley's been protected by top Republicans, in particular Reynolds, through close political connections and financial motivations. Reynolds is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and is heading the battle to keep the House. Foley's longtime Chief of Staff Kirk Fordham, is now Reynolds' Chief of Staff. And campaign finance records show that Foley's campaign committee gave $100,000 to the NRCC this summer.
And the GOP leadership is hopping on the bandwagon calling for Foley's head. "His immediate resignation must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system," said a statement from Hastert, Boehner and the majority whip, Roy Blunt. But that directive falls far short of taking any responsibility themselves for allowing Foley to continue operating unchecked.
Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said any leader who had been aware of Foley's behavior and failed to take action should step down. "If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem, they should not serve in leadership," Shays said.
Those poor Republicans. With President Bush's recent Terror Tour kicking his approval rating up a few points, and with gas prices on a freefall, the Repubs were starting to get a little breathing room as they march towards the November midterms. But now it seems abundently clear: these guys are ammoral, unethical and corrupt, and no amount of spin can change that. Foley's sexual indescretions with a minor, and the ensuing cover-up, is simply one more example of why it's time for Republicans to go. Twelve years has been enough of this morally bankrupt party.