Tim Johnson Circles The Wagons In House Underage Sex Scandal
Make no mistake about what Johnson and LaHood are doing. As the conservative Washington Times calls for Hastert's resignation (and rumors swirl that he could resign as early as today or tomorrow), Tim Johnson is trying to save Hastert by deflecting blame onto the page program itself. The Chicago Tribune's Frank James explains the purpose of LaHood's call, now joined by Johnson, to suspend the page program:
Can Republicans change the subject?Or as today's Rockford Registar Star puts it:
Rep. Ray LaHood is known as a straight-talking House Republican. But he is also a loyalist to his fellow Illinois Republican, Rep. Dennis Hastert, the House Speaker.
Both qualities were on display during LaHood’s appearance on CNN yesterday. LaHood essentially absolved Hastert of blame in the Mark Foley congressional page email scandal.
He also plugged his radical idea of suspending the page program. And he acknowledged that the Republican base is likely demoralized by the Foley scandal and will need an extraordinary effort....
As Harold Meyerson, a columnist in today’s Washington Post noted, LaHood’s proposal would wind up punishing the victims—the teenagers who come from all around the country for the rare opportunity to work on Capitol Hill—and not the victimizers....
Abolishing the page program is a knee-jerk reaction that would deprive young people who are interested in government of a valuable experience. Why punish the pages? They are not the problem....In other words, rather than really trying to get to the bottom of and fix and the massive failure of leadership that gave us Mark Foley, Tim Johnson would rather join in LaHood's grandstanding to distract attention from GOP leaders and, especially, Hastert.
The page program goes back to Sen. Daniel Webster, who appointed the first Senate page in 1829. House pages have been on the job since 1842. Former pages who’ve come forward since the Foley scandal broke are unanimous in their support of the program.
Foley was a bad apple, sure, but the poor handling by leadership of this matter shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the page program.