Man Party Walking
Reuters photo of Bush, Brownie, and a man Bush no longer knows
So Denny Hastert tries to take responsibility by saying more rules are needed for him to ignore. Hastert’s remedy is also to name Louis Freeh to investigate zippers other than Clinton’s. Nancy Pelosi rightly shoots that out of a cannon, saying that an investigation is needed, and not another zipper hunt by Freeh, who couldn’t be bothered to focus on Al Qaeda in the 1990’s. And then to cap off the failed strategy for the GOP, three more pages come forward to ABC News and accuse Mark Foley of making online sexual advances to them.
If Hastert and the White House thought they could contain this through a false acceptance of responsibility for ignoring the rules already in place, and then call for even more rules for Republicans to ignore, they were wrong. It may already be too late. An internal GOP poll and analysis by a Republican strategist this afternoon concludes that if Hastert stays as Speaker, the GOP will suffer cataclysmic losses next month, and yet it appears that both Cheney and Bush are insisting that Hastert stays. Good, I’d like to see dozens of GOP representatives walk over the cliff next month. One of Hastert’s aides came out this morning and said that Hastert will not step down, and in fact will remain as Speaker in 2007 no matter what. Thanks for that gift Denny.
I don’t know whose bright idea it was to suggest that former FBI Director Freeh be the Grand Inquisitor here, given that it was Freeh who spent more time investigating Clinton’s sex life than he did supporting John O’Neill’s efforts to stop Osama Bin Laden.
As for the new story, despite the Drudge Report attempt at spinning a new GOP storyline that some or all of these messages and emails from pages are part of a prank, one of the pages says that these advances by Foley are not a prank. As much as I want to believe that, when I read the pages' claims, I can’t believe Foley would actually say those things or be that dumb. But I could be wrong about that. Nonetheless, the story will not go away with Hastert’s acceptance of responsibility, and that may very well lead to the large losses next month now being predicted.
The damage has been done, and Hastert’s action today won’t reverse the fact that voters think the GOP engaged in a cover-up. A new Time Magazine poll out today shows that:
Two-thirds of Americans aware of the congressional-page sex scandal believe Republican leaders tried to cover it up — and one quarter of them say the affair makes them less likely to vote for G.O.P. candidates in their districts come November. Those are among the findings of a new TIME poll conducted this week among 1,002 randomly-selected voting-age Americans.
The poll suggests the Foley affair may have dented Republican hopes of retaining control of Congress in November. Among the registered voters who were polled, 54% said they would be more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared with 39% who favored the Republican — a margin that has jumped by 11 points from a similar poll conducted in June.Bush isn’t getting away unscathed here: his approval rating fell in the Time poll to 36%, and mirroring other recent polls, 54% now believe that Bush lied to the nation in making his case for the Iraq war. This is the real danger for the GOP arising from the Foley cover-up: voters will see the Foley cover-up as just another example of the GOP lying to stay in power instead of doing the right thing, whether it be on Capitol Hill or at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Bush and Cheney have finally led their version of the GOP over the cliff.