Nothing More Than "Simply Naughty Emails?"
The Foley scandal has the potential to not only take down the GOP House leadership, but to also paint the Bush White House as a morally bankrupt enterprise as well. Democrats can argue that the GOP House leadership was more interested in maintaining their power than they were in adhering to a moral compass, and that to the GOP, this was more of a political problem than a moral one. As Kos notes, it seems clear that Denny Hastert, Tom DeLay, Tom Reynolds, and John Boehner were more interested in keeping a seat in Republican hands and maintaining the GOP cash flow than they were in dealing with a sexual predator in their midst. Hastert today is trying to spin his behavior by saying that he didn’t see the “lurid emails” that Foley sent out, which doesn’t address the fact that Hastert was told about them and still did nothing. Just because you didn’t see the emails doesn’t mean you didn’t have a responsibility for acting upon the information and protecting the pages.
Calling for independent investigations of others and cries for help will not change the political calculus that the GOP made in this matter, which Democrats can use to paint the whole GOP Congress as morally bankrupt and power hungry, by showing how their behavior in this matter tracks with their “look the other way” enabling behavior on Iraq, Halliburton, Big Oil, the Medicare Part D fiasco, 9/11, and Katrina. And outlandish statements by Newt Gingrich, Brit Hume and others are another sign of a broken moral compass within the GOP chattering class.
But doesn’t this tawdry matter also cause problems for the White House as well? It most certainly does, if today’s disgusting comment from Tony Snow is any indication of how the White House feels. For Snow, the matter can be summarized as “simply naughty emails.” If that is an accurate reflection of the White House’s thinking on the matter, then I think that Democrats can extend the “lack of moral compass” argument to the White House as well, especially if they really think these are nothing more than naughty emails.
The truth is that Hastert and the White House will try and sweep this under the rug and they may incredibly try and make it an issue of gay persecution of a troubled drunk, rather than their moral and legal obligations and knowledge of Foley's actions for years. Such rank hypocrisy, coming from a party that has painted itself as more moral that their opponents while vilifying gays for political benefit should not be surprising, any more surprising that Foley condemning Clinton for having a relationship with someone much younger than him, like Foley tried to do multiple times with underage boys. But then again, this is the same White House that let a gay prostitute pose as a journalist, so anything goes with these guys. Winning is all that counts to Snow, Rove, and their bosses, and any real concern about doing the right thing and moral values are of little or no importance, except to bamboozle the cultists every day in Red State America.
There is one additional dynamic to take into account as a result of the Foley coverup. Karl Rove's strategy was to fear-and-smear the Democrats in all red-state and swing districts around the country by using the GOP leadership and incumbents to hammer a message of "terrorists and taxes". He was planning on having the GOP incumbents compare their virtues against the unknown, immoral, tax-raising, appeasing Democratic challengers. As Josh Marshall noted this morning, the Foley coverup has neutered the GOP leadership, who will now try and avoid media scrutiny over this matter and will be unable to go on the offense against Democrats. Furthermore, even the leadership may now have competitive races in their own districts, and the White House can no longer count on the leadership in both houses to carry a message of moral superiority and protection against the Democrats.
It will be hard for the GOP to argue they are best prepared to protect us from terrorists when they don't care enough to protect the pages who work for them. But I guess we shouldn't be too surprised at a political party that feels both our troops and their pages are expendable items to maintain political power.