Thursday, October 05, 2006

Foley Fallout: Hastert Speaks - An Analysis

House Speaker Dennis Hastert finally made a non-conservative talk show appearance to discuss the Foley scandal. Hastert made a short statement and took a few questions this afternoon outside of his Illinois office. Hastert seemed to take some form of responsibility for something, but that's about it.

"The bottom line is I am taking responsibility for it because ultimately the buck stops here. I'm sorry that this happened. For something like this to occur, our system obviously isn't designed for the electronic age of Instant Messages.

"When Republicans found out about the explicit messages, Republicans dealt with it immediately, and he is gone.

"We are now trying to correct the problem. We asked the Ethics Committee to look into this matter and we asked for criminal investigations to be opened by the Justice Department and by the state of Florida.

No talk of resignation from Hastert, despite the great furor of the past few days over that possibility. He also took a shot at the Democrats in his closing remarks, accusing them of "taking advantage" of the situation. A political shot at a time like this may not go over real well.

Quick analysis: Hastert's comments will satisfy the John Boehner's, Pat Buchanan's and Laura Ingraham's of the world - but not the religious right base of the GOP. Yes, Hastert finally addressed the situation, but simply shuffling under the rug with talk of upcoming investigations and pledges of ignorance over the Foley correspondence just won't cut it with independents and religious conservative alike who find the scandal abhorrent.

And will this speech be enough to throw those pesky GOP mavericks that have blasted Republicans handling of the scandal off of the GOP leadership's back? That remains to be seen. The GOP needs to get all hands on deck and work together to, if not to stop the gush of blood that has been flowing right toward the Dems noses and souring the public's view of Congress and the Republican leaders there, at least put something on the gaping wound that is the Foley scandal. If the GOP can rally and force the Dems to start bringing up the scandal instead of the imploding GOPers drawing attention to it, they could salvage 11/7.


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