October 5, 2006

Foley-gate and why it can be interesting

I tend to be less intellectually interested in personal life scandals of elected officials than other political issues; they seem so dumb and ideally I would rather just ignore them and not waste my time. I do, however, end up following them to a certain extend because they are juicy and are made juicier by the media, the other party, or both. What does interest me are scandals that involve how a politician practices (i.e. lobbying scandals and leaks) as well as how personal life scandals play out in party politics and strategy.The fact that Foley hit on underage pages doesn't do it for me...uh, that sorta came out wrong...what does interest me is the debate over whether or not House Speak Dennis Hastert (R-IL) should resign his leadership role because of his knowledge and inaction with respect to the situation. Of course, there are two ways to the approach the question: should he resign because he is not suited to do his duties as Speaker of the House or because he is not suited to be a visible leader of the Republican Party due to his tarnished reputation. The Washington Times, in a very powerful editorial, thinks Hastert should step down for the former reason. I'm more inclined to think in this case, the second reason is more powerful.As far as I can tell, Foley didn't do anything illegal (although that is still up for debate); his interactions with the pages were limited to written contact and never progressed to a physical level. Hastert, therefore, didn't cover up a crime, but rather kept secret up an embarrassing personal matter that, of course, could have become a crime. He should step down, as a matter of Republican strategy, because otherwise he would further tarnish the party going into midterm elections.Note: I reserve the right to change my opinion if other facts arise regarding Foley's actions.