Hastert's Management Problem
NRO's The Corner is worth wading through if only for Rick Brookhiser. This will probably make him less popular among NRO-niks but I'm almost always enlightened, educated and impressed by his writing. Anyway, he seems to me to grasp the issue of Hastert. It's not so much a horrifying cover-up as simple bad management:
Hastert bungled this sky-high, through psychological naivete in the service of wanting to avoid a problem. Telling Foley to go and sin no more was like telling a drunk to go and drink no more. It's easy to think like that when you don't want to rock the boat.
Not a capital crime, just misjudgment. A reader makes the case more expansively here::
I think Hewitt misses the reason that Hastert may be in trouble.
When I first read the e-mails, they seemed creepy because they came from an adult to an unrelated minor with whom the adult had not extensively worked (and one was about one of the pages); it's not accurate to say that they were creepy only because Foley was gay and because the page in question was male. But I entirely agree that they weren't "strong" enough to justify formal action.
The problem for Hastert is that there is a stage in these incidents short of taking formal action - when you realize (or should realize) that a particular member of Congress has a "problem". That is, based on the e-mails and on the apparent reputation that should have been known by those supervising the pages, Foley appeared to be someone who not only was attracted to pages, but also was not willing to maintain the proper personal distance between himself and the objects of that attraction. This is exactly the scenario that would exist if the member was heterosexual and the page was of the opposite sex, or for that matter, if a member had a bad temper and had a tendency to verbally abuse the pages, or if a member had a drinking problem that led him to engage in embarrassing public misbehavior.
It's basic management: Realizing that you have a problem supervisor, figuring out the extent of the problem and addressing that problem. It doesn't look like Hastert did it; if he had, he might have realized that even if he couldn't "prove" that Foley had violated any law or rule, he was someone, at the very least, who should be discouraged from seeking re-election because he was a potential embarrassment to the party and to the Congress. At the very least, he should have spoken with Foley about the situation and made it clear that someone else was better suited to represent Republicans in Foley's district. It was Hastert - not ABC or the newspapers - who had an obligation to make sure that Republicans in Foley's district weren't nominating someone who might embarrass them.
If I was a member of Hastert's caucus, I'd have serious doubts about his management ability. And that's reason enough to get a different speaker, regardless of whether it gives a "victory" to the other side. The failure to hold Hastert responsible for his failure lends credence to the theory that the current GOP majority is suffering from an arrogance of power and needs to be brought down.