Thursday, October 5, 2006

When the wind blows and the rain feels cold
with a head full of snow

I read an interview of George Clooney a year or two ago in a doctor's office. I don't remember the magazine in which the interview was published, but I do remember Clooney said something I liked. He said, "Always do the right thing, because if you do, it won't come back and bite you on the ass."

Dennis Hastert and his fellow Republican Representatives didn't do the right thing and now it is biting them on the ass. It had to take a big bite to affect Hastert's position, because that's an awfully big ass, but covering up a sexual predator's attempts to seduce children seems to have taken a big enough bite to leave a mark.

The immediate response from Hastert and his co-conspirators in the cover-up has been to lie and deny, which is so typical in these situations it is a cliche. In this case there were just too many people involved in this scandal for it to remain quiet, the fall guys aren't taking the fall silently, and the crime is so dirty it is threatening to take a lot of folks down with it, folks who won't drown without grabbing at anything that looks like it might float, even if it means drowing someone else.

And that, dear Tamionians, is where today's revelations bring us.

Kirk Fordham, a former aide to disgraced ex-Representative Mark Foley (R-FL), who resigned "Wednesday amid allegations that he tried to protect Foley from congressional inquiries into his inappropriate contact with congressional pages" is not keeping his mouth shut and being a good little boy about all of this. Fordham says that he warned Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, about Foley's sexual predation three years ago. He says that Palmer talked to Foley about it.

Palmer and Hastert's spokesperson Ron Bonjean deny it.

Representatives Shimkus (R-IL) and Reynolds (R-NY) say they talked to Hastert about Foley's relationship with the pages in 2005 and Hastert says he doesn't remember those conversations.

We now have way too many denials from Hastert for his story to remain credible. It appears a lot of people were telling Hastert that there was a problem and Hastert is denying everything.

Although Fordham's story has changed at least once during all of this, it's not hard to see why. The cover-up habit is probably as hard to break as smoking if covering up worked at some point. My take is that Fordham realized he had nowhere to go with this if he didn't come clean, so now he's trying to redeem himself with truth. He's already lost his job and there's not much else to lose. What supports his story is, in fact, that Hastert is denying the statements of multiple people, all of whom said they talked to Hastert about the problem.

All of which comes back to what Clooney said. There were a number of people who didn't do the right thing here. Hastert and Fordham covered up Foley's behavior. Reynolds and Shimkus claim to have told Hastert about it and left it at that, but neither of them took any responsibility for it. It was like they said, "This is your problem, deal with it or don't." But if you see a crime being committed and you tell a cop, and the cop doesn't do anything, do you consider your responsibility to be over? Wouldn't you phone it in to the station if the cop did nothing? And Reynolds and Shimkus aren't just ordinary citizens. They are members of the House of Representatives. You expect a greater sense of responsibility and leadership from them. One of their own was preying upon high school kids. Hastert wasn't the only one who didn't do the right thing; several Representatives failed those kids, their parents, and their constitutents. They all deserve to be bitten on the ass for it.

(cross-posted from Blanton's and Ashton's, where cheese is more than a food; it's a way to touch the face of god.)

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