Passing the Joe Buck

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The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on perpetually tanned Rep. John Boehner's (R-Ohio–or perhaps a planet closer to the Sun than Earth) fan dance around oversight for the Foley situation. Boehner, one may recall, is House Majority Leader, which is no small deal, especially for a guy who won that position promising reform and all that jazz. Reports the Enquirer:

Boehner told WLW that Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., told him of Foley's contact with the page earlier this year "in passing" on the House floor but that no specifics were mentioned, so "the conversation didn't raise any alarms."

Boehner said he spoke to [Speaker of the House Dennis "Coach"] Hastert about it and was told "it had been taken care of."

"In my position, it's in his corner. It's his responsibility. The clerk of the House, who runs the page program, the page board, all report to the speaker, and I believed it had been dealt with," Boehner said.

A few hours later, Boehner rebuffed the Washington Times' call for Hastert to resign in a letter to the editor, saying "no one in the leadership, including Speaker Hastert, had any knowledge of the warped and sexually explicit instant messages."

OK. So Boehner had learned of Foley's behavior, but there was no reason for alarm, and in any case, he had already told Hastert about it (because, really, there was no reason for alarm), and it's Hastert's responsibility anyway, or maybe Rodney Alexander's, not that any of the GOP leadership had ever heard about any of this anyway, right?

More, including Hastert's deep musings on Rush Limbaugh's radio show about why someone might "drop" the F-Bomb on "last day of the session before we adjourn in an election year," here.

It's not exactly clear what effect the Foley scandal will have on the midterm elections (and there's something disturbing to me about reducing an abuse of power story to a political horse-race story), but this much seems certain: The Republican leadership has really responded in a way the belies their insistence on responsibility, personal, moral, fiscal, and otherwise.

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NEXT: The First Daily Mark Foley Memorial Contest

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  1. Page girls whoring themselves up on Capital Hill is nothing new. But apparently the boys are in on it, too. Straight boys. And it all has to do with power.

    And a bit off-topic, I’ve been reading about good ol’ Ted’s little bridge dive at Chappaquiddick. It’s amazing that these men (MARRIED MEN) were able to herd gaggles of young women around so brazenly, and when one of them gets killed, the man responsible not only gets off scott-free, he is able to keep his job and torment a nation for forty years.

    The underbelly of power is so filthy it’s surreal. I’m amazed that there aren’t more anarchists/libertarians.

  2. ditto, Mr. Nice Guy.

  3. Foley being a homosexual was known to his colleagues for years. To their credit, nothing was made of it. Nor should it have been. Only homophobes can now claim they should have been monitoring him closer. That he began to pursue underage males may not have been known but if anyone did, it should have been stopped immediately. Both parties do a piss-poor job of
    discipling their miscreants (as does church, business, schools, etc.) so I would guess the vast majority get away with coverups or the coverups would never be attempted.

  4. I see a real disconnect in that last paragraph…

    there’s something disturbing to me about reducing an abuse of power story to a political horse-race story), but…

    vs.

    this much seems certain: The Republican leadership has really responded in a way the belies their insistence on responsibility, personal, moral, fiscal, and otherwise.

    Have you considered that it’s the Republican’s lamo response – the pathetic kind that’s come to typify so much of everything they’ve come to stand for – that’s turned this into a “political horse-race story?”

    I admit the the rumblings about “how this scandal will effect the elections” have been there since the story broke.

    But the new story is all about the Republican response and how THAT will effect the elections.

  5. The Republican leadership has really responded in a way the belies their insistence on responsibility, personal, moral, fiscal, and otherwise.

    Not really, when you come to understand that they mean “you people” when they insist on responsibility.

  6. Hey, look over there! Over THERE!

  7. “…this much seems certain: The Republican leadership has really responded in a way the belies their insistence on responsibility, personal, moral, fiscal, and otherwis.”

    Did you honestly expect anything else?

    ——-

    “The underbelly of power is so filthy it’s surreal. I’m amazed that there aren’t more anarchists/libertarians.”

    If only people would go to political rallies and throw rotten fruit and vegetables at the candidates…

  8. Take this with a grain of salt or two, but I’ve read that what the leadership got were the vaguely suggestive e-mails, not the explicit IMs. I think they’re all scum up there, but some explanation must exist–the risk of sitting on something like this is so tremendous that I don’t see those political cowards doing it for a second. I don’t doubt that they had some idea that he was a little out there, but they probably had no idea how far. Probably.

    I’d prefer that something like this didn’t go immediately political. Obviously, neither party is the child predator party, so I’m not sure what this tells us as far as elections go. Other than making sure that Foley is no longer participating in them, that is. In the unlikely case that there was an actual cover up, though, I agree wholeheartedly that heads should roll. And I mean to the extent of making sure that any guilty members will have the same role in Congress that Foley now has.

  9. PL: Yet ABCNews smoked out the far worse emails almost immediately. Because they went looking for them. The House leadership was more interested in not finding anything. The WaPo is now saying that pages were whispering about Foley’s cloying “friendliness” as early as 1995, the year he showed up in the House. Is this a fact for the prosecution, in that it was widely known he was sidling up to boys and asking their names, or the defense, in that he was widely known as a harmless creep who always stopped short at the outer limit of pervert?

    I think, and I’ve said in other posts, that this scandal will be regarded with cynicism by the majority of the electorate, which assumes that all politicians are scum, but that there are crucial margins that will be affected in close races. The first is the Christian Right, which will simply be outraged at they cannot rely on the GOP for anything beyond lip service to their values. These people were disillusioned anyway, but this affair is a personal insult to them. The second is the tiny minority of good-government types who would argue that policies in general are debatable, as long as the government acts in good faith. They expect the people in power to comport themselves with a modicum of decorum and self-discipline.

    Many of the Christian Right will stay home over this; many of the second group will take time off from work to come out and vote against the Republican Party. Incidentally, the GOP flacks are now insinuating that the timing of the scandal is a little too cute: five weeks before election day. As experienced smear-jockeys, they would know the ideal lead time. But they themselves are responsible for it. They could have dealt with it decisively last year, in my opinion. And CREW notified the FBI in July, which decided to do absolutely nothing about it.

    If the Justice Department had moved then, it might have blown over by now. And the Republicans worked very hard to put Albert “Torture Memo” Gonzales at the helm of the Justice Department. He seemed so determined to fight crimes against morality when he was confirmed.

  10. Pro Lib,

    If you are charged with looking out for the welfare of minors – as the House and Senate leadership are with these high school pages – then you have an affirmative duty to keep them safe.

    No parent in his right mind would see an “overly-friendly” email like that from their kid’s 54-year-old boss and not suspect something. No principle would see that from a 54 year old teacher to a 16 year old student and not call the teacher in a for a chat, at least.

    The fact that there are so many horny old men and star-struck staffers on “Pussy Hill,” as it was know when I had friends who had internships there in college, should have made those emails more of a red flag, not less.

  11. James, it’s a struggle for me not to just let my contempt for these people run amok. I think it’s entirely possible that they can do any number of things that I find reprehensible. In fact, some of those things they do in the light of day.

    My thinking here isn’t that they wouldn’t cover up something like this. Rather, it seems to me that if it were really well known in Washington (even in a small circle) that Foley was engaging in this type of behavior, the GOP leadership couldn’t possibly hope to keep it under wraps or to do so without getting caught in the end. An actual failure to act with full knowledge is almost as politically damaging as a cover up, too. Therefore, it makes little sense to me to believe that the leadership really understood the scope of the problem with Foley, though I have little doubt that they had some warning.

    Probably, given their stupid politician way of thinking, they thought that taking Foley aside and saying, “Come on, knock it off with the pages” was sufficient. Obviously, it was not. I also got the impression from an NPR interview with some of the pages that they pretty much kept quiet, too, which might’ve screwed up any attempts at an informal investigation.

    joe, I don’t claim to know who knew how much when. I also don’t mean to suggest that these jackasses would be sure to do the right thing by the pages or by anyone else. I just think it doesn’t make much sense, and I think the eagerness of some to pillory the leadership for political reasons, regardless of what actually happened, is clouding the issue. Unfortunately, the truth will never completely come out, because most assuredly these same people will do whatever is necessary to cover their asses, cover up or no.

    Incidentally, I agree about the pages and the interns. No way a child of mine would be allowed to be either. I had a fellowship at the White House in 1995 (and one of my roommates was a Congressional intern, incidentally) and heard a few stories and heard about what was generally accepted up there (lots of wink, wink, nudge, nudge). These jokers that we send to D.C. are far below the general standards of moral and ethical behavior to begin with. Giving them access to young interns (I’m hoping that page abuse is much, much less common) who also seem, oddly enough, disproportionately attractive compared to the general population (wonder why?) is a Bad Idea?.

    Frankly, if thirty Congressmen get tossed out over this, it doesn’t bother me one bit. I despise both parties, so either one controlling one house or the other makes no difference to me. Here’s a question: Will there be a general investigation by Congress and/or law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of the kids up there? And what about the interns? Why isn’t it sexual harassment to treat them the way they are treated? That’s not a legal question, by the way.

  12. Principal = person in a leadership role, as in ‘principal’ of a school or business.

    Principle = fundamental concept or idea, as in ‘principles’ of liberty.

    EEEEEEEYYYYAAAAGGGGHHHH!

    Sorry for the Dean Moment. That solecism is one of my pet peeves.

    Aresen the Grammarian.

  13. As a mother and a grandmother…
    Oh, never mind.

  14. I agree with pretty much everything that’s been said so far, but I have one observation about the House leadership. If they even suspected this guy had an unusually strong interest in the personal lives of the pages, couldn’t they have given him another committee assignment? Something about manatee preservation or inspection of Coast Guard retirement homes? The whole business is sordid enough without giving Jay Leno and The Daily Show the added benefit of this guy being on the Missing and Exploited Children committee.

  15. Wait, wait, wait – Nancy Pelosi has grandchildren?

    Really?

    I had no idea.

    Speaking of which, does anyone know what Bill Frist did for a living before he went into politics?

  16. [D]oes anyone know what Bill Frist did for a living before he went into politics?

    Why yes, yes I do. He systematically murdered and butchered cats.

  17. . If they even suspected this guy had an unusually strong interest in the personal lives of the pages, couldn’t they have given him another committee assignment?

    Seems reasonable, but doing so might have raised flags after the fact = kind of like the Bishop moving priests accused of molestation to different parishes.

    Anyway, rather than credit any of the current situation up to the cafeful calculations of self-interested politicians…I think someone just made the wrong call at some point and it’s blown up in their faces.

    They probably had an opportunity to get rid of the guy months ago, and decided, ‘play dumb’ – and we can deal with it next year. PL argues they’re too smart for that. Not so sure. Plausible deniability is one, then 2 – they really didnt know how explicit the IMs were.

    In other words, they were playing at DEFCON 3, when the missles were already airborne.

  18. He systematically murdered and butchered cats.

    See? No one’s all bad.

  19. highnumber,

    Got that straight from the Frist wiki entry:

    Controversy over medical school experiments

    While in medical school, Frist obtained cats from animal shelters, under pretense of adoption as pets, for school research experiments in which he killed the animals. In a 1989 autobiography, Frist described how he “spent days and nights on end in the lab, taking the hearts out of cats, dissecting each heart.” After some time, Frist said “[I] lost my supply of cats,” so he chose to deceive animal shelters, an act which he described as “heinous and dishonest.” He attributed his behavior to the pressures of school. The incident sparked controversy after a 2002 Boston Globe story repeated the account.

    Although I am not personally fond of cats and don’t have that whole pets = humans outlook, I think that I’d hesitate to vote for someone who did something like that. Am I alone in wondering whether he took cat parts and tried to make a Fristenstein Monster out of them?

    joe, were you referring to his pediatric surgery? If so, I think my answer is better 🙂

  20. “He systematically murdered and butchered cats.”

    Eh. Beats municipal planning.

  21. Oh, the felinity!

  22. Is it just me?
    I am already totally bored witht the Foley scandal.

  23. As a father and a grandfather…
    Order!
    We’ll have order in the House!

  24. Is John Boehner posturing to run for Speaker to succeed Hastert (whether before or, if the Republicans retain a majority, after the elections)? Would the Republicans in the current climate actually nominate a Speaker whose name can easily be mispronounced as boner?

    (Apologies to former Rep. William H. Boner (D-Tenn.).)

  25. Coach:

    YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER! THIS WHOLE DAMNED HOUSE IS OUT OF ORDER!!

    First, it was CYA for you. Now it’s C-Ya.

  26. Is it just me?
    I am already totally bored witht the Foley scandal.

    I was bored at some point but then I started enjoying the hilarity.

    It was the same with the Clinton impeachment and the Florida “recount”. Watching pompous boobs on both sides trip over each other with their transparent hypocrisy becomes one of the few joys to be found in an otherwise bleak world.

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