The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages to underage congressional pages. His aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened. Read More.
Captain Ed agrees, one of the things about leadership is that it is proactive. When the leadership became aware they should have immedietely started a thorough investigation, when it became apparent that a pattern was emerging action should have been taken.
Captain Ed says:
But let's put that aside for the moment, and concentrate on what Hastert and the leadership say they did in response to Foley. Once they found out about the e-mails through the complaint of an underage page, all they did was ask Foley about it, and accepted his denials at face value. Incredibly, no one apparently ever asked any of Foley's former or current pages if they had noticed any inappropriate behavior from the Congressman. What kind of an investigation doesn't address the reality of patterns in allegedly predatory behavior? Foley's uncommon interest in young teenage boys had become parlor talk among the pages, but either Hastert didn't want to find that out or deliberately avoided it. Hastert apparently made the decision not to follow procedures and refer the matter to the Page Board, the bipartisan committee that oversees pages, and that looks very clearly like a cover-up.
And someone has to explain why Foley retained his position on the Caucus for Missing and Exploited Children. No one saw a problem with this?
Even ascribing the best of intentions to Hastert and the other members of leadership, personal friendship with Foley doesn't excuse that level of incompetence. Furthermore, when the scandal broke, Hastert should have immediately explained his involvement in the earlier complaint, rather than wait for it to dribble out. That's what leadership means: controlling a situation and providing an example rather than allowing events to control you and your party. All Hastert needed to do was to come out on Friday and said, "We had a complaint about suggestive e-mails this winter, and we relied on Mark Foley's word that nothing more untoward had occurred. In hindsight, that was a mistake, but we wanted to honor the wishes of the parents and not make a public spectacle of the situation." It wouldn't have explained the earlier incompetence, but at least it would have dampened the firestorm that erupted around the changing stories of House leadership. Link.
Dean Barnett agrees: Link