Sunday, October 1, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

Writes Joshua Micah Marshall on the various statements made by various members of House leadership on the Mark Foley mess:

It’s about to require a flow chart to keep this all straight.

Indeed–a flowchart would be quite helpful.

I have been struggling to be reasonable about my reaction to this situation. I don’t want to irresponsibly call for resignations of leadership if they did not know enough to have reasonably acted, on the other hand I do not wish to downplay the need for those in leadership to be vigilant in their responsibilities.

There seems to be the following possible explanations:

1) The Leadership was Lazy/Dismissive Hypothesis (as the story went up the chain, it wasn’t treated seriously by leadership)

Given that Hastert originally said he wasn’t told suggests that either he was told and it was so unimportant to him that he let it go in one ear and out the other, or that he was told, he didn’t take it seriously and his initial reaction was to try and cover up that fact.

2) The Insufficient Evidence Hypothesis

This is the “it was just one odd e-mail” hypothesis and Foley was able to convince Shimkus (who chairs the Page Board) that there was nothing to it.

3) The Cover-up Hypothesis

Under this hypothesis leadership knew far more than just one weird e-mail and because they didn’t want a scandal/didn’t want to risk losing a safe seat, looked the over way (if not actively covering up the situation).

Now, clearly hypothesis #3 is the most damning, but the others aren’t all that impressive either.

My guess is that the truth is in the #1 and #2 regions, but I hold out the very real possibility that #3 may yet be confirmed.

Of course, none of these possibilities should allow leadership to skate, and may yet should result in resignations.

Because here’s the deal: if Shimkus and others determined that, indeed, the e-mail in question was not only “over friendly” but “inappropriate” then Shimkus should have engaged in some sort of investigation (perhaps discreetly interviewing other pages who had had contact with Foley?).

This is especially true given Foley’s position as chair of the House caucus on missing and exploited children and his work on child predators. If Foley was a key player in the anti-drug movement, and he showed signs of drug use, one would think that attention would have been paid. So, too, should it have been paid here.

Given that Foley wasn’t not especially circumspect about his contacts (using “MF54″ as one’s AOL IM handle isn’t exactly going to great lengths to hide one’s identity), one guesses that there was other evidence to be found about his activities.

So, at a minimum leadership was lazy (if not incompetent) in this matter (hypos #1 and/or #2) and are now scrambling to to do the CYA dance, or they have been activity involved in a cover-up (hypo #3) and are now finding out that they aren’t very good at it.

To be honest, this incident either reveals leadership to be incompetent (witness their inability to keep the story straight over the last couple of days) or corrupt.

As such, should the Republicans manage to maintain control of the chamber, I would recommend to the Republican conference that new leadership is needed. Should they lose in November I think that they have no one but themselves to blame.

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3 Responses to “More on Foley”

  1. Rob M Says:

    Well, the St. Pete Times had the email last year and said that there was nothing “overtly sexual” about the emails. It seems that if this was the only page that had come forward to House leadership then there may not have been anything they really could have done.

  2. Ratoe Says:

    One thing that makes #3 more plausible is the fact that the first House member Rodney Alexander contacts about the matter was Tom Reynolds, the New York Republican head of the NRCC–the Republican Party’s COngressional re-election wing.

    Why would he first go to a political guy rather than through House leadership? Most likely to deal with the potential political fall out. There is no other plausible reason, which makes me suspect that there was some time of cover up–or willful ignorance–going on in the upper echelons of the Republican House.

  3. Pros and Cons » Foley’s Folly (and Republicans’ Nightmare) Says:

    [...] Steven Taylor has been following this whole Foley fiasco (see here, here, and here (he has posted several other posts on this topic, but these are the most extensive). Much to my dismay, I find that I’m too much of a cynic to be terribly surprised at this sort of thing. [...]

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