Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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October surprise

The point of holding the vile and disgusting Foley instant messages until last Friday was to alienate religious conservatives. While there are some who argue that no particular candidate (other than Foley’s hapless replacement) will be hurt, I’d argue that these revelations, together with evidence of apparent long-time Republican tolerance of behavior that was at least creepy, and ought to have been worrisome, has the potential to keep lots of otherwise Republican voters at home next month.

On a slightly different note, this article reminds us of how past scandals have been handled.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Let me repeat: This is big. We can’t afford to whine about Democratic and MSM strategy. The likelihood is that more and more creepy stuff is going to surface. Should we take THE WASHINGTON TIMES demand that the Speaker resign seriously? WE need to be thinking strategy now!

I agree, and I hope you don’t think I was whining.

First of all, it’s hard to believe that what we’ve seen so far is anything other than the tip of the iceberg. More scandalous stuff will likely surface.

As for a response, I think that Hastert’s resignation, however honorable it might be, would surely feed the frenzy. If he resigns, the opposition will say, then things must be even more awful than anything we’ve seen so far. That isn’t to say that he shouldn’t do so. But how he resigns, and what he says if (when?) he resigns will be of the utmost importance. It would be crucial, I think, to talk about character, responsibility, and the ways in which leaders have to be willing to confront their supporters when they’re wrong. There has to be some talk about how Congressional collegiality doesn’t require tolerating the intolerable, averting one’s eyes when one’s fellows are, shall we say, indiscreet. And there has to be talk about how political leaders have to be beyond reproach, not just so that they don’t supply ammunition for their opponents to lob back at them, but so that they exemplify what’s best about our nation.

Hastert and the Congressional Republicans should embrace the character issue, not because they can win on it, but because it’s the right thing to do. By taking responsibility without asking forgiveness, by insisting on a full accounting (chips falling where they may), and by insisting that in the future personal and private integrity and rectitude will be collegially insisted upon (with mechanisms to back), they put themselves in a position eventually to win back the trust they’ve squandered.

Hunkering down might enable them to weather this storm and preserve a narrow House majority, but I can’t imagine that under those circumstances there would be any legislative successes to speak of in the next session.

What a wonderful message this must send to all those idealistic pages who come to DC to participate in govt. Whatever happened to the party that has repeatedly advocated for personal responsibility?

But hey, let’s think about "strategy" now.

It seems to me that the question of who "leaked" the information and whether or not groups on the left have tried to use it strategically is largely irrelevant. If Hastert et. al. knew and sat on the information - they should resign from leadership and maybe even resign from Congress. This is unacceptable. If they knew and don’t resign - the Republicans in Congress should try to force them to - even at the expense of possibly losing the majority in the midterms. This gets at the moral soul of the party I think...will we deal with it in an expedient way or will we act rightly..

Regarding the WaTi article:

"Why have some members of Congress survived sex scandals while others have not? " and

"You can’t spin it. Americans are much more offended by hypocrisy than they are by dishonesty."

Asked and answered, I think. While Dems are also susceptible to stupid mistakes, and to the nasty combination of power and sexual exploitation, they don’t pretend to be the party of family values, and they haven’t sleeping with the Religious Right.

So, we can generally forgive weakness and even stupidity, while on the right, you really cannot afford to, because your brand has been violated. But, the spectacle of a Jimmy Swaggert, or a Newt or a Foley, or any other inflated, self-righteous soldier against sin, caught with his pants down, is too much to resist.

So, in my opinion, it isn’t the sex, or even the creepiness that is the silver bullet, here, it is they hypocrisy.

Fung’s point illustrates exactly why we have what Peter Lawler calls "creeping libertarianism." No defender of traditional values has ever claimed to be perfect. However, if we’re going to expect moral perfection out of such people--hypocrisy being the only unforgivable sin to the modern liberal--they will almost always end up in disgrace sooner or later. Simple instincts for political self-preservation require conservatives to make continual compromises with social permissiveness.

If the current picture of "what Hastert et. al. knew and when" stands, Caleb is right about them resigning from leadership. About resigning altogether...no, that should be reserved for misdeeeds of Foley-level stature. Although it might be prudent for them to decline to run for office next time around.

Carl,


Perhaps. But it is certainly possible that two offenses, of different degrees, could both be bad enough to merit stepping out of office. I’m not sure if that’s the case here because I don’t know what Hastert knew. It sounds like he may have known less a year ago than was initially reported. But if he knew Foley was propositioning interns and sat on the info - he should step down.


On the other hand, if he didn’t know about that until this week - then it seems like he did the right thing. As I understand it - he offered no support to Foley and no defense of his actions - and in fact said they were inexcusable. That’s what he should have done.


To others - of course people are more angry at hypocrisy than at sin/wrongdoing by itself. That’s not surprising. It doesn’t mean that the sin/wrongdoing isn’t really, really bad. They both are.


Caleb

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