In the GOP pattern of behavior throughout the Bush Administration (and beyond, frankly, but let's stick to recent history), the public pronouncements and the behind-the-scenes honest facts don't match up. Again.
And this time, it wasn't soldiers at risk from lies and the cover-ups — it was teenagers entrusted to work as pages in Congress, and a Republican leadership more interested in keeping smarmy Uncle Foley's secret "in the family" than in making certain every page serving in the House stayed safe from the hard cruise and grooming e-mails, with the GOP leadership's outrage reserved only for the after-the-fact time when they got caught with their hands in the cover-up jar.
Glenn hits the nail on the head here:
As much as anything else, that is what this scandal is about — GOP House Leaders prancing around as the Protectors of our nation's children from Internet Predators while, at the same time, apparently knowing that there was such a predator in their midst. And they not only failed to do anything about it, but they actively worked to conceal the behavior (by, as noted below, ensuring that all Democrats — including even the Democrat on the House Page Board — were blocked from learning about these accusations). As Hastert put it at the top of his Press Release (emphasis in original): “At home we put children first, and Republicans are doing just that in the House.”
It is this same pattern of behavior, over and over again, putting the Republican party's interests ahead of the public's.
– Whether we are talking about children serving as pages in the House whose safety took a back seat to protecting the GOP public reputation through covering up for Rep. Foley no matter the cost to the kids:
Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.
But news reports about the exchanges led to the disclosure of e-mail correspondence with other former pages in which the discussions became more and more sexually explicit. Shortly after he was confronted by ABC News on Friday about the subject, Mr. Foley, who represented a south Florida district, resigned from the House.
The revelations set off a political upheaval, with Democrats and some Republicans calling for a full investigation of Mr. Foley’s conduct and whether House leaders did enough to look into it. Members of the Republican leadership sought Saturday to detail how they had handled the case in an effort to defuse the situation, even as it was emerging as an issue in Congressional races.
Among those who became aware earlier this year of the fall 2005 communications between Mr. Foley and the 16-year-old page, who worked for Representative Rodney Alexander, Republican of Louisiana, were Representative John A. Boehner, the majority leader, and Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Mr. Reynolds said in a statement Saturday that he had also personally raised the issue with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert….
The tap dancing and finger pointing underway in the Republican leadership is appalling. And the rush to set up a "hotline" for worried parents eleven months after the leadership learned of this problem is way too little, much much too late.
At what point did the leadership say to themselves "Hmmm, here we have an elected official in his 50s, flirting with a 16-year-old and asking him to send pictures. That's creepy and inappropriate, and perhaps we should investigate further than just telling everyone to keep it quiet and hope it will go away." Answer: only after the media exposed the problem months after the fact. Heckuva job, Denny.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was notified early this year of inappropriate e-mails from former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) to a 16-year-old page, a top GOP House member said yesterday — contradicting the speaker's assertions that he learned of concerns about Foley only last week.
Hastert did not dispute the claims of Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.), and his office confirmed that some of Hastert's top aides knew last year that Foley had been ordered to cease contact with the boy and to treat all pages respectfully.
Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, became the second senior House Republican to say that Hastert has known of Foley's contacts for months, prompting Democratic attacks about the GOP leadership's inaction. Foley abruptly resigned his seat Friday.
House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post on Friday that he had learned in late spring of inappropriate e-mails Foley sent to the page, a boy from Louisiana, and that he promptly told Hastert, who appeared to know already of the concerns. Hours later, Boehner contacted The Post to say he could not be sure he had spoken with Hastert.
Yesterday's developments revealed a rift at the highest echelons of House Republican ranks a month before the Nov. 7 elections, and they threatened to expand the scandal to a full-blown party dilemma.
Only after Reynolds's definitive statement did Hastert concede yesterday that he may have been notified of some of the questionable activities of Foley, 52, who had co-chaired the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. Hastert said, however, that he knew nothing of the sexually explicit instant messages that became public Friday when ABC News and other news outlets reported them. The messages apparently were exchanged with youths other than the 16-year-old.
Hastert's aides learned in the fall of 2005 only of e-mail exchanges that House officials eventually deemed "over-friendly" with the Louisiana teenager, the speaker's office said yesterday in a lengthy statement. "While the Speaker does not explicitly recall this conversation" with Reynolds, the statement said, "he has no reason to dispute Congressman Reynolds's recollection that he reported to him on the problem and its resolution."
Boehner and Reynolds said their offices learned of the Foley e-mails months ago from Rep. Rodney Alexander (R), who sponsored the page from his northeastern-Louisiana district….
Let's talk for a moment about what a person honestly concerned about the well-being of the teenagers involved would have done: (1) talked with the page in question; (2) talked with the parents of that page; (3) talked to other pages; (4) an actual, thorough and real investigation; (5) contacted outside authorities with no political axe to grind to conduct an independent investigation to assure that nothing untoward was happening; (6) pretty much anything but a cover-up and an admonishment to treat the teenagers with whom this grown elected official was flirting with "respect." (Hello GOP Leadership, in the corporate world, this sort of brush-off of a sexual harassment problem with one of your partners would get you slapped silly with a civil lawsuit. Do you think the rules do not apply in Congress or that the children who serve there are less worthy of protection than adults in the workplace? RollCall has more.)
What did the Republican leadership actually do? No one has any clear picture of that at the moment, because they are all running around in circles pointing the finger at each other, with no one standing up and taking any responsibility whatsoever for their failure of leadership or concern for the kids who were placed at risk by pervy Uncle Foley's masturbation and grooming advances. Josh Marshall has a sort of chronology going on this — it really needs a vast flow chart at this point with all the finger pointing and backtracking — and it doesn't look good for most of the GOP leadership. Pathetic.
But when you pan out a bit and look at the broader context of the Republicans and their consistent CYA behavior versus choosing actual honesty with the public, it is not a pretty picture:
– Who could forget George Bush's "Mission Accomplished"? Certainly not the families of all those soldiers killed and wounded since May 2, 2003.
– Or the praise in his "Brownie, you are doing a heckuva job!" statement as the mess of Katrina was still underway.
– CIA leak case, anyone?
– To this morning's revelation of the Bush Administration keeping the whole story about Bush Administration failures from the 9/11 Commission:
…If true, it is shocking that the administration failed to heed such an overwhelming alert from the two officials in the best position to know. Many, many questions need to be asked and answered about this revelation — questions that the 9/11 Commission would have asked, had the Commission been told about this significant meeting. Suspiciously, the Commissioners and the staff investigating the administration’s actions prior to 9/11 were never informed of the meeting. As Commissioner Jamie Gorelick pointed out, “We didn’t know about the meeting itself. I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.”
The Commission interviewed Condoleezza Rice privately and during public testimony; it interviewed George Tenet three times privately and during public testimony; and Cofer Black was also interviewed privately and publicly. All of them were obligated to tell the truth. Apparently, none of them described this meeting, the purpose of which clearly was central to the Commission’s investigation. Moreover, document requests to both the White House and to the CIA should have revealed the fact that this meeting took place. Now, more than two years after the release of the Commission’s report, we learn of this meeting from Bob Woodward….
And there are so many more examples, that I can't even list them all in a single post. So. Many. More.
Aren't you asking yourself this question: What else do we not know that the GOP is hiding from the public? And aren't you tired of all the hypocrisy, the lies, the cover-ups and the CYA? It's time for some accountability…America simply cannot afford to be shoved in the back seat by the GOP any longer, while they put themselves and their party's hold on power front and center in every decision.
America deserves to come first.
Had enough? It is high time for accountability — and the only way to ensure that is to have Congress controlled by the Democrats. The Republicans have proved that they cannot be trusted to do their jobs, to uphold the Constitution or to investigate their own problems.
Restore some balance in our government and some oversight between our branches — vote for Democrats.