Fifty-two percent of those surveyed in a Newsweek poll say they believe House Speaker Dennis Hastert was aware of the former Florida Rep. Foley's inappropriate messages to teenage House pages and tried to cover them up. Hastert has said he was not aware of Foley's inappropriate conduct until the story broke publicly late last month. Also, 42 percent say they trust Democrats to do a better job of handling moral values, while 36 percent say they trust Republicans more.
52 percent - albeit a majority of Americans - is modest, despite clear evidence suggesting a cover-up took place. Hastert should get gone; but, see, he's feeling comfortable with only a scratch above half of all Americans feeling he should resign. We go back to George Will's cogent piece in the Washington Post:
After the 1936 election, in which President Franklin Roosevelt shellacked the Republican nominee in all but two states, a humorist wrote: "If the outcome of this election hasn't taught you Republicans not to meddle in politics, I don't know what will." If, after the Foley episode -- a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries -- the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work.
Will is on point here. At this stage, Democrats should be using this moment to solidify both base and message - we don't see either happening right now. 52 percent means that American voters probably feel overwhelmed with news on the Foley scandal; that media is saturating headlines with what many will attribute to simply "the usual business on the Hill" and not enough to punish GOP leadership for a serious lapse in judgment and institutional responsibility. Which is why Hastert and other rank-&-file Republicans are staying on message by blaming this latest debacle on soured Democrats digging for dirt. Too much scandal in the headlines can actually have the opposite effect of what was originally expected. Suddenly, the accused perpetrators become unknowing victims of mean-spirited partisan antics. Dems should probably cool down the resignation rhetoric and let chips fall where they may.
If both 2000 and 2004 Presidential races ended up pretty much neck-&-neck even after news about Bush's DUI charges, draft-dodging and questionable Air National Guard service surfaced, then what makes you think Democrats are in any kind of position to retake both chambers of Congress after Abramoff, Delay and Foley?
With the North Korea impasse now blazing the global headlines as the new crisis of the month (and Kim Jong Il begging for attention), "Foleygate" will take back stage to the real October surprise. Maybe we're just rampant cynics with nothing better to do than lament, but we remain skeptical of any Dem takeover in the House - perhaps the Senate. Yes, indeed, Dems should be putting out those resumes and mass resignations of the House Minority leadership should begin sometime after the last votes are counted on November 7th. You think it's bad now - Republicans will be off the chain once they figure voters will let them off the hook for pretty much any crime and breach of public trust. Maybe voter discontent and a healthy grassroots response from the body politic will prove this blog wrong in a month.