Friday, October 13, 2006

Agreeing with Gurwitz

Jonathan Gurwitz had a column earlier this week that I almost fully agree with. With the exception of a gratuitous knock at Democrats as "anemic and philosophically barren" towards the end of the column, I would have to say that I agree with it nearly 100 percent.

The scandal is that colleagues who had some inkling that Foley was engaging in inappropriate behavior — to give his Republican cohorts a very generous benefit of the doubt — did nothing to seriously confront him and failed to fully investigate the matter.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Rep. John Shimkus, the Republican chairman of the House Page Board, may have had a good grasp of Foley's turpitude for months. They may have hoped Foley's proclivities would simply fade away or at least be kept quiet until after the midterm election.

More likely, Hastert and others simply deemed what they thought was Foley's inordinate interest in pages as an acceptable bending of the rules. Some members of Congress shower their attention on lobbyists and special interest groups. Some have a weakness for travel, others for Louis Philippe period commodes. "So what," they might have thought, "if Foley's special interest is well-groomed young men?"

Either explanation gets to the essence of the GOP's problem: the abandonment of principle.

And that abandonment is certainly costing them in the polls. As many as 20 to 30 House seats have shifted toward the Democrats since the Foley scandal broke.
Political scientist Larry Sabato on his Crystal Ball blog is now predicting that the Democrats will win the majority in the House next month. He has 11 Republican-held seats now leaning toward Democrats and another 16 Republican-held seats are rated as tossups. If they truly are tossups, that would mean at least half would go Democratic giving the Democrats a net gain of 17 seats at the minimum. They need only 15 to take control.

Can you say - Speaker Pelosi? Better get used to it.

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