I haven't gotten a chance to post on Rep. Foley's apparent taste for harrassing teenage congressional pages since the very first inklings of this story began to trickle out. When considering the House leadership's preposterous effort to exonerate themselves in this mess, it's worth considering the sheer speed with which the story has developed. Integral to the leadership's case is Dennis Hastert's effort to draw a distinction between Foley's emails, and Foley's IM messages. And, of course, Hastert's right -- the former were suggestive, but not damning in the way the IMs were.

That said, the emails were genuinely suggestive -- weird, inappropriate communications that suggested something bigger was going on. Various media organizations saw the emails and when they did, they decided to dig deeper, leading to the IMs. And it didn't take very long once people were on the case. The difference, in other words, isn't that the press saw something (the IMs) that the GOP leadership didn't see. The difference is that when ABC News and others saw smoke, they went looking for fire. They investigated. When Hastert and co. saw smoke, by contrast, they decided to turn off the smoke detectors and hope the house didn't burn down until after the midterms. Which is bad enough on its own terms, but when you think about it is also more-or-less how today's Republican Party handles information of all kinds, up to and including things directly related to the conduct of shooting wars.