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Hastert’s escalating problems and the usual suspects

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October 6, 2006

By THOMAS HARGROVE

Here is a cast of characters involved in the political struggle over House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s leadership since Rep. Mark Foley’s resignation last week.


Dennis Hastert — Speaker of the House who Thursday took responsibility for the failure to contain the House page scandal swirling around Foley. But Hastert also said he will not step down. GOP leaders established a toll-free telephone number so pages, former pages and their families can call to report incidents.

"Could we have acted better? Could the page board have acted better? In retrospect, probably yes," Hastert said. "But we acted on what we had."

"I don’t know who knew what when," he added.

George W. Bush — Bush praised Hastert as "a father, a teacher and a coach" who "wants to ensure these children on Capitol Hill are protected." Vice President Dick Cheney said ousting Hastert "wouldn’t make sense."

Kirk Fordham — Former chief-of-staff to National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds. Fordham resigned Wednesday amid charges that he had covered up allegations against Foley last year. Fordham, who once was Foley’s chief of staff, said Thursday he made repeated warnings to top GOP staffers about Foley’s conduct even earlier than 2005, a claim Hastert’s staff denies.

Scott Palmer — Hastert’s chief of staff, Palmer denies Fordham’s claims that he had been told about concerns over Foley’s conduct with House pages as early as 2003. Palmer issued a brief statement Thursday: "What Kirk Fordham said did not happen."

Tom Reynolds — Republican congressman from New York and chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee, a critical GOP funding group for the upcoming election. Reynolds said he personally raised concerns about Foley’s e-mails during a meeting in February or March of this year with Hastert and later disputed Hastert’s claims that the speaker only learned of the issue last week.

Rodney Alexander — a Republican congressman from Louisiana who received complaints in 2005 from the family of a former House page unhappy with a series of e-mails from Foley asking, among other things, for a photograph of the teenager. Alexander’s staff contacted Hastert’s office, asking that Foley stop contact with the youth.

John Shimkus — Republican congressman from Illinois who oversees the House program for pages. He is one of the few GOP leaders known to have read the 2005 e-mails. Shimkus met with Foley last year after the Louisiana youth complained about unwanted contact from Foley. Shimkus ordered Foley to cease all contact with the youth. Foley agreed.

John Boehner — Ohio Republican and House majority leader, Boehner raised the stakes in the debate over Hastert’s future when he said in a radio interview Tuesday that he had expressed concern about Foley in a meeting with the speaker last year. "I believe I talked to the speaker and he told me it had been taken care of," Boehner said. "My position is it’s in his corner, it’s his responsibility."

Roy Blunt — House majority whip from Missouri, Blunt joined a chorus of top conservative House leaders who this week criticized Hastert’s handling of the Foley case. " I think I could have given some good advice here," Blunt said. You have to be curious. You have to ask all the questions you can think of. You absolutely can’t decide not to look into activities because one individual’s parents don’t want you to."

Ron Lewis — Kentucky Republican in a tight re-election race, Lewis cancelled a scheduled invitation for Hastert to attend a fundraise next week, saying the speaker has to clear up the controversy surrounding him.

18 Responses to Hastert’s escalating problems and the usual suspects

  1. Eleanor

    October 6, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    In my opinion the only believable one listed above is Kirk Fordham. The others, including Bush and Cheney, are, in my opinion, still the liars, protectors of evil at any cost so that they don’t lose a seat or election. But everyone of them has a judge and jury in God and HE will prevail.

  2. Bill Jonke

    October 6, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    What I’m seeing, and I hope others are too, are Bush and Cheney offering “unconditional love” to their, for lack of a better term, cronies, since they have no one else anymore.

    Desperation is playing out rapidly and succinctly.

  3. Craig

    October 6, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    Considering the Republican party’s opposition to gays, especially on issues like gay Boy Scout leaders and gays in the military, etc., I am amazed that they would allow a gay man (who was KNOWN to be gay by all the “leaders” listed above) to be around boy pages. It seems hypocritical to me, which is my biggest problem with this new brand of Repulicans, i.e., the self proclaimed “family values”, “God and country” patriots wrapped in the American flag and holding a Bible.

    Whether its Democrats or Republicans, both parties are made up of flawed human beings. If they are truly so righteous, they would have stuck by their values walked their talk and done something long ago.

    This is a perfect example of what can happen to a political party that stakes exclusive claim to the moral high ground. That kind of strategy is a disaster in the making. If they truly are the party with Christian values, they would have a thorough understanding that NO ONE is perfect. Instead, they have chosen to continuously give the false impression that THEY are the only group with the right to claim the moral high ground on everything. True Christians understand the concept of humility and grace. This has been an exercise in monumental hubis.

  4. Bat

    October 6, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    Let us remember that ‘gay’ is NOT synonymous with ‘pederast’, most of whom (98%), are straight and are involved with their own family members.
    The gays I know are aghast at the idea of having affairs with children, just like most everyone else.

  5. Ben

    October 6, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    “I am amazed that they would allow a gay man (who was KNOWN to be gay by all the “leaders” listed above) to be around boy pages.”

    Um, just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they’re a pedophile. And not all pedophiles who molest boys are gay. Should all straight males be kept from interacting with 17-year-old females? I really wish we could get over the equation of homosexuals with pedophilia.

  6. Ted

    October 6, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    Congresspersons who engage in TUSH-TERRORISM on minors and those who protect and defend them is a felonious problem.

    Being gay is irrelevant and is being used by lawyers and the GOP to confuse those with unyielding faith in the GOP and their Gods of hidden agenda: greed and avarice.

    The current President, Attorney General or Congress are not competent to rectify the problem due to the chronic rectal-cranial inversion from which they suffer.

    A citizen voting for any incumbent congressperson is like a chicken that votes for Colonel Sanders.

  7. TRUTH 101

    October 7, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    It appears that Congress, KNOWING the American people swallow just about anything and everything (due to proven statistics) have decided that the best way to difuse this at least a little is claim that the DEMOCRATS engaged in Political Dirty Tricks by releasing this information just weeks before the election, want to hold hearings on it and get the klikes of senior and Democratic leaders to testify.

    What has this nation become ?? What does American a once proud beacon for the world turned into at the behest of the thugs and sexual deviates, and outright criminals that govern it for their own enhancement and benefit only.

    LOOK; the Democrats undouibtedly have a few skeletons in their closets as well which makes them tread softly on this or perhaps any other issue. But this idea or concept that the Democrats made me do it is absurd.

    HASSERT MUST GO…PERIOD. He knew about it was told about it several times and essentially did nothing. Just like the Catholic Church scandal a couple of years back…same subject…lets say the devil made us do it and promote the person that covered it up.

    EVERY SINGLE Republican or Democratic Congressman who KNEW and said nothing MUST be voted out of office. Those who BLINDLY supported the Patriot Act without reading all of it and understanding it’sd implications must also go, either at the ballot box or by impeachment.

    These are grown men and women who are charges with the welfare of this country called America. A lofty and very responsible post to say the least and the very first screw-up means immediate dismissal by the people who elected them and those that can be charged with a crime…should be….no hearings, no non-stop investigations, no talking, GONE.

    Meanwhile out of sight how many other freezers have been stuffed with campagain or otherwise illegal or ill gotten cash. Oh I forgot, that was a crises or two ago…OLD NEWS and the MAN STIILL SERVES.

    WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!

  8. Sandy Price

    October 7, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Both the Democrats and Republicans will turn this mess into a huge pious homophobia. Americans are gullible and somewhat ignorant of gay Americans and this will blow up into a horrible action trying to get the Christian vote in November.

    Individual liberties will be thrown aside for votes. I can only hope the voters who truly believe that America is a nation based on individual freedoms will not fall for this emotional reaction to a situation that could have been nipped in the bud had anyone in the Congress stepped up to the plate.

    The problem with the House of Representatives did not start with Congressman Foley but with the lack of morals and ethics of the rest of the group including Speaker Hastert.

    How hard it is for parents to teach their children how to lose a competition but to see our own politicians going for the win using every possible unethical and often, illegal ways to do it, shows us all the lack of morals in D.C.

    Vote ‘em all out of office and start again.

  9. Craig

    October 9, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    This is to respond to the comment from Bat:
    My point about the Republicans allowing a gay man to be around boy pages was tongue in cheek. I was trying to point out their homophobic conclusions about gays (as abberant behavior), and point out the hypocrisy of their “stated position” when measured by their own actions. It does amaze me that if they view gay people as perverts and abnormal, that they would put that kind of person around the very children they are supposed to be protecting with their stated “family values”.

    In my mind, there can be no other reason than to say that even THEY don’t believe their own “religious” hooey, and they only take that position in order gain continued support from their fundamentalist backers. I know, as do you, that the gay community does not condone or approve pedophilia. Just because someone is gay does not make them a pedophile, and I regret that it sounded like that was what I was saying.

  10. Eleanor

    October 6, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  11. Bill Jonke

    October 6, 2006 at 6:46 pm

  12. Craig

    October 6, 2006 at 7:06 pm

  13. Bat

    October 6, 2006 at 10:15 pm

  14. Ben

    October 6, 2006 at 10:38 pm

  15. Ted

    October 6, 2006 at 11:34 pm

  16. TRUTH 101

    October 7, 2006 at 1:21 pm

  17. Sandy Price

    October 7, 2006 at 2:20 pm

  18. Craig

    October 9, 2006 at 6:21 pm