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Don’t Resign, Speaker Hastert. Swing Back.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The Washington Times wants Speaker Hastert to resign.  To do so would be to capitulate to Democratic-activist-induced and MSM-abetted hysteria.  Not only should Hastert not resign, he should use every opportunity to swing back hard at a MSM deeply compromised by its ideological extremism and a Democratic Party committed to retreat and defeat in Iraq and fecklessness in the war generally.  If Republican candidates recognize that the “clamor” is just the echo chamber, they’ll quickly come to understand that this is another Wellstone Memorial Service moment, when the left has persuaded itself that the American electorate is stupid and easily stampeded, and where overreaching appeals to emotional and unjust conclusions cannot be sustained in the new media environment.

Hastert did not know that Foley was a predator, only that Foley had sent a too-friendly e-mail to one teenage page, the sort of e-mail that would have been completely unremarkable if it hadn’t come from a gay Congressman. To have attempted to censure Foley for that e-mail would have been to impose a rule on Congressmen concerning their contacts with minor pages and interns that has no precedent anywhere.  The warning about appropriateness that Foley did receive is exactly what ought to have happened and did.

Confirmation of that conclusion is provided by two newspapers.

Until Friday Hastert and other GOP Congressmen knew only what Florida newspapers knew and which those newspapers considered insufficiently newsworthy to run a story about.  From today’s New York Times:

The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald received copies of an e-mail exchange between Mr. Foley, Republican of Florida, and a teenager, but neither paper gathered enough solid material to publish a story, according to statements by the papers’ editors.

It was not until the exchanges were published online last week, first by an anonymous blogger, then on the ABC News Web site, that the story gained momentum and grew more damaging as other teenagers came forward.

The trickle of information about Mr. Foley’s messages, first made known to the news media almost a year ago, has raised questions not only for Congressional officials but also for news organizations about how to handle anonymous sources making explosive accusations in an election year….

The St. Petersburg Times said that last November, it received copies of an e-mail exchange between Mr. Foley and a former page from Louisiana. The newspaper said the boy, who was under age, did not want his name used, and the paper said it did not want to publish accusations based on unnamed sources. The Miami Herald apparently received the same information, although it is not clear when it received it.

Two major newspapers have known about the e-mail for eleven months.  There was no story because there was no scandal in the e-mails, only in the IMs, which shock and outrage everyone who reads them, and which have been concealed somewhere for more than three years –itself a scandal, but not one to be laid on the Speaker.

Not surprisingly, a Democratic field weakened by its leadership’s insistence on retreat from Iraq and refusal to deal with the realities of the war have seized on the scandal:

Across the country, in competitive and noncompetitive races, Democrats seized on an issue that they said was resonating with voters. In an effort coordinated in Washington by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s candidates urged their Republican opponents to call for the resignation of Mr. Hastert and other leaders.

In Indiana, Baron Hill, a Democratic candidate for a House seat, asked the incumbent, Representative Mike Sodrel, a first-term Republican, to reject any financial contributions from the national party. In North Carolina, where Representative Robin Hayes, a Republican, is engaged in a tough campaign fight, the state Democratic Party issued a statement asking, “Who does Robin Hayes stand up for

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