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GOP problems mount as Foley scandal escalates

By
October 8, 2006

As the Mark Foley Congressional Page scandal escalates and various attempts by Republicans to stem it spiral out of control, a new poll shows more than half of Americans suspect a coverup and polls in various House and Senate races show GOP prospects of retaining control of Congress fading.

Fading, also, are the political fortunes of embattled Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, whose conflicting stories on how he mishandled the Foley affair have come to characterize the moral, ethical and leadership lapses of his party.

Bloomberg News reports:

More than half the U.S. public, or 52 percent, said House Speaker Dennis Hastert knew about a congressman’s inappropriate messages to teenagers and tried to cover the matter up, according to a new Newsweek poll.

Hastert has come under intense criticism for his handling of the scandal involving Representative Mark Foley, a Florida Republican. Foley resigned from Congress Sept. 29 after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit electronic messages sent to male pages.

Pro-Republican groups and some party lawmakers have said Hastert, 62, an Illinois Republican, should have acted more forcefully when informed of other, less explicit Foley e-mails to another page. Hastert said he hadn’t done anything wrong at an Oct. 6 news conference.

The magazine’s poll, taken Oct. 5-6, found 53 percent of respondents said they would like Democrats to win control of Congress in the Nov. 7 election, while 35 percent favor Republicans. Republican President George W. Bush’s approval rating fell to a record low of 33 percent in the Newsweek poll, a three-point drop from Newsweek’s Aug. 24-25 poll.

The poll also marks the first time that a majority of Americans, 53 percent, said they believe that the Bush administration purposely misled the public about evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to build support for the U.S.- led invasion to oust dictator Saddam Hussein, Newsweek said.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the poll 1,004 adults for Newsweek. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Write Michael Grunwald and Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post:

Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr. (R-Fla.) was trying to talk about security Friday at bustling Port Everglades, but with planes roaring overhead and containers slamming onto trucks, nobody could hear him.

That’s a common problem for Shaw and Republican candidates around the country these days — trying urgently 30 days before Election Day to frame a winning message but finding their efforts drowned out by the furor over former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.).

"It’s sucking all the air out of the room," Shaw said in an interview after his news conference at the port. "It’s a tough time; there’s just total saturation right now."

Back in Washington, Republican strategists acknowledge privately that, even under their best-case scenario, Foley’s sexually charged messages and allegations that House leaders were too passive in responding to them will remain an all-consuming distraction for GOP campaigns for the next week.

Their strategy — equal parts hope and calculation — relies on waiting for the story to die down in local news outlets, even if it continues to dominate national news, while also accusing Democrats of exploiting a personal lapse for political gain.

In both parties, there is rough agreement among operatives that the impact of the Foley scandal is likely to be felt in two different ways.

There are several places where local factors could amplify the scandal’s destructive power against Republican candidates. Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R), who is facing questions about his own role in responding to reports of Foley’s conduct, is suddenly in a tough race against Democrat Jack Davis in an upstate New York district. In Pennsylvania, Republican Rep. Don Sherwood’s already troubled campaign hardly needed anything that might remind voters of his admission earlier this year that he had an affair with a woman who accused him of physical abuse.

Beyond these specific races, however, many strategists in both parties believe the scandal might echo principally as a metaphor for a GOP leadership that over the past year has drawn more attention for ethical lapses and partisan turmoil than legislative achievements.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted after the revelations found 63 percent of voters "dissatisfied" or "angry" with House Republican leaders, and 73 percent disapproving of the job Congress is doing. In a Time magazine poll, 68 percent said the scandal will have no effect on their vote, but only 16 percent said GOP leaders handled it appropriately.

"People aren’t going to vote on this issue, but it’s given people an easy way to think about everything they’re unhappy about," said Democratic media consultant Anita Dunn.

And Charles Babington of The Post offers this:

Despite countless hours of TV coverage and reams of newspaper reporting on the House’s handling of the Mark Foley page scandal, numerous fundamental questions remain unanswered as the FBI and the House ethics committee begin their first full week of inquiries.

Gaps and inconsistencies in the public accounts include such basic matters as when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his top aides first learned of concerns about Foley’s relationships with male pages, and what they did about it. Also unclear is which GOP officials decided that only two members of the six-person House Page Board should confront the Florida lawmaker.

And accounts differ on whether the two board members knew the exact contents of e-mails Foley sent last year to a teenage boy in Louisiana. Those messages alarmed the boy and his parents and set into motion the events that eventually would uncover far more sexually graphic messages to other former pages, triggering Foley’s abrupt resignation a week ago.

Armed with subpoena power, investigators for the FBI and the ethics committee will pursue scores of questions, almost surely including:

Who decided to keep word of the Louisiana e-mails closely held, so that only a handful of House Republicans — and no Democrats — knew of them?

Did Trandahl and Shimkus know exactly what the e-mails to the Louisiana boy said?

How did House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) handle word of the Louisiana e-mails?

Did Hastert know about the e-mails to the Louisiana boy?

Was Hastert’s staff alerted to earlier concerns about Foley’s behavior toward teenage pages?

34 Responses to GOP problems mount as Foley scandal escalates

  1. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:06 pm

  2. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:09 pm

  3. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:11 pm

  4. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:29 pm

  5. qwerty

    October 9, 2006 at 2:17 am

  6. Shag

    October 9, 2006 at 2:24 am

  7. South Point Man

    October 9, 2006 at 8:19 am

  8. qwerty

    October 10, 2006 at 11:02 am

  9. South Point Man

    October 8, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Finally, “Clinton’s BJ” happens. Sort of.

    Rather strange, though, all this hubbub about some congress horndog, yet it’s been silence and crickets chirping when the news was broken that forensic analysis revealed that thermate cutting charges brought down the WTC buildings.

    Uh… I’m failing to understand how the actions of a naughty horndog are more important than the government complicity in the 1st degree murder of nearly 3000 people on American soil…

  10. Bukko in Australia

    October 8, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    I still expect the Republicans to steal enough seats to maintain a tenuous hold on Congress. I suspect that GOP operatives have been identifying which precincts in which districts to cheat with electronic voting machines to gain 50.1% to 49.9% “victories.” They will lose a few seats from their majority — gaining ground at this point would be too obviously Stalinesque — but still stay in nominal control. It’s that paranoia that made me emigrate to Australia. My only hope is that the cheating will be so obvious that it will spark people into rebellion. I hope to come back after the revolution to help pick up the pieces. Otherwise, I’ll be watching the collapse from down here.

  11. TDW

    October 8, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    I’m all for rebellion, and the kind of rebellion that politicians will not soon forget.

    If the Gooper bastards steal one more elction, I say shut the damn capitol down.

    If that doesn’t work, burn it down, along with the corporate offices of the string-pullers.

  12. South Point Man

    October 8, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/

    The apple falls not far from the tree.

    I don’t care about the sexual encounters with young “men for hire”, but I find the support and endorsement of these GOP hypocrites for the fascism and degradation of the United States to be more than a trifle bit annoying. In fact, I find it utterly intolerable. It’s not nice to be evilness.

  13. GlennK

    October 8, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    As long as the Repiglicken party owns all the companies that count the vote all the sex scandals and other scandals won’t mean a thing. In the end it’s who counts the votes and we all know Karl will be counting.

  14. Joe Keegan

    October 8, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Gosh, I find it hard to believe that the Republicans would try to cover-up yet another scandal, or, for that matter, the Democrats played some role in exposing Republican hypocriscy just before an election and try to use it to their advantage. What bothers me more, however, is that congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006- adios habeas corpus. To the Democrats credit, the overwhelming majority voted against it.

  15. Deceived and disgraced by the GOP

    October 8, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Tried to post a comment and got the message below.

    Thank you for commenting.
    Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.

    Censorship – what a wonderful gift to another!!!

  16. Deceived and disgraced by the GOP

    October 8, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Tried to post a comment and got the message below.

    Thank you for commenting.
    Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.

    Censorship – what a wonderful gift to another!!!

  17. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    My friends what Foley is alleged to have had in mind for congressional Page boys is precisely what President Bush’s administration and the Republican National Cult aka GOP have been doing to Uncle Sam and the rest of the world beginning on, in Dick Cheney’s words, the first hour of the first day.

  18. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    “George W. Bush will repair what has been damaged. He is a man without pretense and without cynicism. A man of principle, a man of honor. ON THE FIRST HOUR OF THE FIRST DAY HE WILL RESTORE DECENCY AND INTEGRITY TO THE OVAL OFFICE. He will show us that national leaders can be true to their word and that they can get things done by reaching across the partisan aisle, and working with political opponents in good faith and common purpose. I know he’ll do these things, because for the last five years I’ve watched him do them in Texas.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/08/02/politics/main221310.shtml

    What Mr. Cheney didn’t say is that their goals would be accomplished through use of fear, intimidation, torture, murder and the terrorism of innocent Iraqi citizens coupled with a ruthless assault on the rule of constitutional law and the Geneva Conventions.

  19. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:09 pm

    We now have a USA soldier, Melson J. Bacos, testifying in court to bearing witness to and participating in the murder of an innocent Iraqi father of eleven children and a subsequent attempt to cover it up and avoid responsibility and accountability for the crime. This cover up is precisely in character with the actions and character of our current administrative, legislative and judicial branches of government and is therefore not surprising.

    http://lledit.us.publicus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061007/NEWS/610070474/1039

    President Bush stated: “We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051107.html

  20. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    Isn’t murder torture? Are President (I am above the law) Bush and Mr. (I am the law) Cheney habitually incompetent when it comes to being truthful or being leaders.

    Will fantasy and incompetence continue to plague this nation accompanied by miserable failure for as long as these want to be DICTATOR-DESPOT-CULTISTS remain in control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of this formerly great/respected nation?

    We are still waiting, in serious vein, for President Bush’s blood drenched hand to reach across that isle Mr. Cheney.

    Tar and feathers anyone???

  21. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Isn’t murder torture? Are President (I am above the law) Bush and Mr. (I am the law) Cheney habitually incompetent when it comes to being truthful or being leaders.

    Will fantasy and incompetence continue to plague this nation accompanied by miserable failure for as long as these want to be DICTATOR-DESPOT-CULTISTS remain in control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of this formerly great/respected nation?

    We are still waiting, in serious vein, for President Bush’s blood drenched hand to reach across that isle Mr. Cheney.

    Tar and feathers anyone???

  22. qwerty

    October 9, 2006 at 2:17 am

    southpoint man can you please provide a link for this:
    “the news was broken that forensic analysis revealed that thermate cutting charges brought down the WTC buildings”

  23. Shag

    October 9, 2006 at 2:24 am

    This time, the coverup may not be worse than the crime, but it still stinks.

  24. South Point Man

    October 9, 2006 at 8:19 am

    Put the phrase

    thermate cutting charges brought down the WTC buildings

    in a search engine. You’ll have thousands of links to check out.

  25. qwerty

    October 10, 2006 at 11:02 am

    i already tried that but all i found was the conspiracy web sites. i already knew about them. i thought you were saying there had been a new, official finding.

  26. South Point Man

    October 8, 2006 at 2:24 pm

  27. Bukko in Australia

    October 8, 2006 at 2:59 pm

  28. TDW

    October 8, 2006 at 4:02 pm

  29. South Point Man

    October 8, 2006 at 5:45 pm

  30. GlennK

    October 8, 2006 at 7:56 pm

  31. Joe Keegan

    October 8, 2006 at 9:28 pm

  32. Deceived and disgraced by the GOP

    October 8, 2006 at 9:56 pm

  33. Deceived and disgraced by the GOP

    October 8, 2006 at 9:56 pm

  34. One more try

    October 8, 2006 at 10:05 pm