October 01, 2006
Foley Scandal Could Damage Like Dems Bank Scandal
The Mark Foley scandal could be to the House GOP what the House bank scandal was to House Democrats in 1992. At the time Rep. Newt Gingrich, then House Minority Whip, used the scandal to tar Democrats for corruption and incompetent management of the House. It was part of Gingrich's plan to paint the Democrats as out-of-touch, arrogant political fossils who no longer deserved to run the House. Rush Limbaugh and talk radio latched onto the story and bludgeoned anyone in its path.
The Foley scandal as the potential to seriously harm Republicans. The scandal could hurt Republicans by undercutting two foundations of their leadership. First, Republicans are known as the "law and order" party. They're the ones who want to be tough on crime and criminals and lambast liberals for being too soft. It could turn out House GOP leaders were too soft on an alleged lawbreaker in their caucus who was allowed to be the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. Second, the Foley story argues against Republicans being the party better able to protect Americans generally. Security moms (and dads) could look at what's happening on Capitol Hill and ask, "Why didn't they do something about that pervert?"
There's also the question of the GOP's management skills. ABC News quotes two political analysts:
"It's a basic management issue," Torie Clarke, a former Republican Party operative, said on "This Week." "Republicans are in charge of the House and this looks like a House out of order."
I can see the Democratic Congressional ads: "Why vote for a Republican? They run things so badly they let a pedophile stalk children."
The Foley story has more potential for damage than Bob Woodward's State of Denial. With the book Woodward pieces together a lot of information that was already in public. It won't change minds. Bush backers will say Woodward is part of the liberal MSM that hates the President and is trying to get back into good graces for previous books that spoke well of the President. With the Foley story there's still more to be learned. Reporters are digging into what Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Boehner knew and when they knew it--which could have been as far back as 2001. In Hastert's case there seems to be some confusion about if he knew about the creepy but not graphic e-mails and the disgusting IM message [PDF]. They'll also look into what the FBI did when they first received information about Foley's disturbing e-mails. Using Owen Robinson and dad29 as any indication of how rank-and-file conservatives feel the GOP could take a serious hit from their base. That's bad news with about a month left before Election Day. Hastert asking the Justice Department to investgate Foley and any possible cover-up is the right thing to do, but it makes for lousy political timing.
"Foley Scandal Sends Tremors Through Other House Races"
Tom Maguire wonders about the source of the electronic messages and who fed them to the media.del.icio.us | Digg it | Furl | reddit | Spurl | Yahoo MyWeb