Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley follies

Stories like Representative Mark Foleys exert a strange gravity. One the one hand flagging them up and talking about it seems like it's bad for the page hurt by Foley's wrong doing. And I certainly don't want to imply that Foley's reckless and evil behavior is indicative of all Republicans.

On the other hand, Speaker of the House Hastert's behavior is worthy of discussion, and is indicative of how the Republicans have handled their position of power. Some of them have a pack mentality, and they don't ask too many questions if you are a member of the pack. Now that this has blown up, some Republicans are questioning this mentality. Debra Saunders is one of them, in her latest article.
Former GOP Rep. Tom Campbell, now dean of the University of California's Haas School of Business, believes House leaders had a responsibility to heed the misgivings of "an underage person in their care whose parents have complained." Campbell believes Hastert and company should have followed up -- by putting Foley in counseling and removing Foley from his chairmanship of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. A chairman of that panel would know better than to ask for a photo out of friendliness.

. . . Still, the Dems' opportunism has been eclipsed by Hastert's sorry demeanor. At Monday's press conference, Hastert was defensive, when he should have been angry -- at Foley, and at himself for not doing more. He looked like a man who didn't want to know.
You can't confine this mentality of looking the other way to Foley though - President Bush took this country for a ride in 2002, selling us on an unnecessary Iraq war. Congress didn't do their due diligence at the time, and they haven't asked many questions since. You can make similar points about the warrentless wiretap program or other aspects of the War on Terror. If you are guilty and Republican, you can generally assume your fellow Republicans are going to look the other way (until you get caught, at which point a variety of responses will result).

On the other hand, good job Ms. Saunders for at least admitting some complicity on the part of the Republican House leadership.

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