Is The Foley Scandal Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

ThinkProgress points to a discussion on ABC News last night:

BRIAN ROSS: So far, Foley is the only member whose overt sexual approaches have been documented. Charlie?

CHARLES GIBSON: The only one to be documented, but are there other shoes to drop?

ROSS: We’re hearing quite a bit from former pages. They’re sending us all sorts of messages about possible other members.

It’s about to hit the fan… and I think if this scandal unfolds as other have in the past, you’ll find both parties involved. Stay tuned…

… but for now, some Republican strategists concede the latest GOP scandal could hand the House AND the Senate to the Democrats next month:

Republican strategists said yesterday that public revulsion over the sexually graphic online conversations between Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and former House pages could compound the party’s problems enough to tip the House to the Democrats in November — and could jeopardize the party’s hold on the Senate as well.

As House GOP leaders defended their role in handling revelations that forced Foley on Friday to give up his House seat, party strategists said the scandal threatens to depress turnout among Christian conservatives and could hamper efforts to convince undecided and swing voters that Republicans deserve to remain in the majority.

There was intense anger among social conservative activists in Washington yesterday, and some called for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to resign.

Marshall Whittman at the DLC’s BullMoose blog nails it:

The Moose witnessed the Republican Revolution of ’94. He remembers the fervent calls for reform and renewal. Now, the House GOP is rightly staring into the abyss. The Foley revelation is the latest representation of the perversion of power.

It took the Republicans a little more than a decade to achieve what forty years of Democratic rule accomplished – the institutionalization of corruption. The major difference is that the elephant masqueraded as a reformist, moral revolutionary. Hypocrisy is truly the tribute vice pays to virtue. These guys give Elmer Gantry a bad name.

How can fiscal conservatives continue to endorse Republican rule? How can social conservatives embrace a House leadership that neglected to fight a child predator in their ranks? How can reformists applaud the Abramoff Congress?

House Republicans are neither the responsible custodians of the taxpayer dollars nor of teenage pages. The Foley episode will depress the social conservative turnout. They did not exactly elect a Republican Congress so it could go soft on child predators.

Flashback:

“It’s vile,” said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. “It’s more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction.” Child molester Rep. Mark Foley (R-West Palm Beach) referring to Bill Clinton in 1998.

Perhaps a reminder is in order. Bill Clinton had an affair. Mark Foley committed a crime.

A Backlash Against Bickering, Against Ideology, and Against Partisanship

Here’s a piece by E. J. Dionne that is actually worth you valuable time:

Republicans have been scratching their heads in frustration. Why has a relatively good economy not been helping either President Bush’s approval ratings or their party’s electoral cause?

One answer is that economic growth is helping people at the top far more than anyone else. Another explanation can be discovered here and in other well-functioning states around the country: To the extent that voters are expressing gratitude this year, they are saying thanks to their governors. That does not stop them from yelling irately at Washington, D.C.

The irony is that Bush has fostered a backlash against himself, against ideology and against partisanship that, as a former governor, he should have seen coming.

Bill Brummett, who as far as I can tell is a writer who finds fault on both sides of the political aisle, has a column this week titled Clintonian Calculations. In reference to President William Jefferson Clinton, 6 years after leaving office and a week or so removed from the infamous FOX News interview with Chris Wallace, Bennett reminds us to never underestimate the political prowess of a person with the last name “Clinton.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton usually stay at least 72 hours ahead of me. It’s on that third day that I begin to say, “Oh, now I see.”

There was the time when Bill was governor of Arkansas and out of state and his Democratic primary opponent was holding a news conference in the state Capitol to blast his chronic absenteeism. Hillary just so happened to walk by and interrupt. “Oh, give me a break,” she bellowed toward the unsuspecting challenger, then lectured him as the TV cameras turned her way.

The poor candidate couldn’t figure out how to fight back against an opponent’s heckling wife — having never before encountered one — and was quickly reduced to rubble.

My instinctive reaction was that the Clintons had erred by sending a wife to do a husband’s job, behaved altogether boorishly and engendered sympathy for the challenger. Not so. People loved it. They talked about her spunk rather than that her husband was seldom in a state that he was presuming to get re-elected to govern. The political dynamic was tweaked. The race was over. The Clintons won again.

Roles may reverse, but brains stay the same.

We had that business last Sunday in which Bill went off on Fox News, showing publicly what some have seen in more profane versions privately.

My instinctive reaction was that the attention-starved former president had merely galvanized the polarized, meaning he’d solidified himself as the champion of hardened Democrats while solidifying Fox as the champion of hardened Republicans. I thought he’d made a good case that he’d done more than Bush to try to get Osama bin Laden. But I thought he’d come across as megalomaniacal and narcissistic. I thought he’d let the ABC terrorism miniseries get to him and lost his temper unattractively.

As political analysis went, that turned out to be merely the outermost and thinnest layer of the onion.

It was on the third day when I noticed that the American political conversation had begun to shift ever so slightly, which might be quite enough for an electorate pretty much tied 50-50.

The war on terror was no longer conceded as the Bush administration’s home field. Did Bill and Hillary calculate all this from the beginning?

My answer? Of course. I wouldn’t have been that hard to predict that Wallace would ask the type of question he did and Clinton, being the most gifted politician of our generation, only had to decide which would be more effective – a cool and calm repetition of the facts that have been available for several years now or a heated and passionate repetition of those fact. The former President, with a now 60% favorability rating with the American people, obviously made the correct choice.

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