Fast forward to today where President Bush's approval numbers remain very low. Throw in a few congressional scandals, notably those surrounding GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and, now, the scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). Although Rep. Foley abruptly resigned following ABC News' disclosure that he carried on sexually-explicit Internet communications with underage male pages working for the House, the scandal is now threatening the top House Republican leadership because of their failure to act on the Foley matter after they first learned of it months ago. Even worse, some are suggesting that House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other top GOP leaders engaged in a criminal conspiracy to squelch a criminal matter.
The Foley scandal will no doubt be viewed as the straw that broke the Republicans' 10-year hold on the House. The GOP's chances of holding the House were already in question before this latest scandal, but this is more than a ruling party can withstand. Rep. Tom Reynolds looks pretty shaky at this point. He's the man leading the GOP's campaign efforts this year. He also accepted about $100,000 in campaign contributions from Foley after he talked to Foley about his inappropriate conduct with House pages. Some folks thinks his role in this whole affair may make him vulnerable in his own re-election bid.
It is simply unacceptable for House GOP leaders to have tried to sweep the Foley scandal under the carpet. That comes from being arrogant in the exercise of your power. This was a very serious matter, involving the integrity of the chamber's page program. As one House member describes the program:
A place in the Congressional Page program is one of the most sought after positions in Washington, DC for young people. Your interest in the Congressional Page Program is a positive indication that you are a concerned American citizen with a curiosity to learn and contribute significantly to the role of the Legislative Branch of our government. Perhaps your experience as a Page will provide the foundation for a future in services to the United States as it has with Pages of past generations. Several Members of Congress began as a Congressional Page.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert and his leadership failed in their duty to ensure the integrity of this program for its young and vulnerable participants. He will most certainly pay for it with his Speakership in this fall's election, if not worse.