George Bush has Karl Rove, Bill Clinton had James Carville and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has Scott Palmer. Call them powers behind the throne, the political gurus who guide their bosses’ careers and, if they’re good, keep them out of trouble.
Palmer, Hastert’s chief of staff, is more than an employee. He’s Hastert’s friend and his roommate in Washington, a living arrangement the Speaker may find difficult to explain in the wake of the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal.
But while some on Capitol Hill see Hastert as a likable, affable buffoon, they see Palmer as a ruthless, arrogant SOB who rides roughshod over anyone who gets in his, Hastert’s or the GOP’s way.
The good-cop, bad-cop relationship is found often in political operations and it lets Palmer take the heat while concealing the fact that Hastert can be just as arrogant and ruthless as his top aide. In fact, both believe a scorched-earth policy is the only answer to running the House of Representatives.