Blankley on Hastert II

Tony Blankley defends his paper’s (his?) editorial yesterday calling for Denny Hastert’s ouster over his cover-up of the Foley affair.

I have known Denny for almost two decades. He is an exceedingly decent man and a hard worker for conservative Republican values and politics. But we cannot deny the fact that he had a sustained lapse of good judgment. The fact that he reportedly has been quite ill for some time may be an explanation — but not an excuse.

Forget the later hideous text messages. When the speaker was told that Mark Foley had sent that first e-mail — the “overly friendly” one that we all saw last Friday — he had to be either obtuse or on notice of the problem. Any father of a young man who saw such an e-mail sent to his son would rightly be disposed to immediately punch out Mr. Foley and warn him to keep away from his son, and then he would call the police. It was common knowledge that Mr. Foley was gay. If he had been straight and asked for a 16-year-old girl’s photo, any sensible person would have concluded the same thing.

But the fact that, according to my best sources in the House Republicans, Mr. Hastert never informed any Democrats of the matter (even on the page oversight board), unambiguously suggests that he knew what was up. Thus began the cover-up. Of course he knew what the Democrats would do with the information. But not only is this not a Democratic Party dirty trick (the facts are real, not made up), but Mr. Hastert had a moral duty to do all in his power to make sure there would not be more victims of Mr. Foley’s alleged sexual predation — or clear potential for such.

Quite so.

I’ve never met Hastert but have read his autobiography. I have never been overly impressed by him as either a charismatic leader or a visionary but never had much reason to doubt his intentions until recently. I just don’t see how his actions in this case are defensible, however.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. cirby says:

    …except that it’s getting more and more clear that at least some high-ranking Democrats knew about the e-mails, possibly even before Hastert did. Why notify someone of this if they already knew?

  2. James,

    Can you do a public service by organizing the emails in the order they were known to Hastert and when. Since you are so sure his actions in this case can’t be defensible, you must have much more information than I do. From what I have seen, Hastert had emails that in no way would have raised any bells if sent by a non-gay man, would have been sneered at as a gay witch hunt or would or would have been dismissed as trivial. But you seem to have much more information and I would appreciate you sharing it. You might also want to leave some space for who else knew about a particular message and when.

  3. James Joyner says:

    You don’t think an email from a man known to be gay to a subordinate teenager asking for photographs and commenting on the attractiveness of another subordinate teenager should have caused concern?

  4. anselm says:

    Shorter yetanotherjohn (and WSJ): Hastert was corrupted by liberal tolerance!

    (or alternatively) Hastert wanted to investigate further, but was afraid of the backlash from liberal tolerance!

    Haster would have stopepd Foley, except that Democrats = NAMBLA!

    LMAO, keep it up man, youre making my day.

  5. Anderson says:

    YAJ, if *your* son got that e-mail, you wouldn’t be the teensiest bit concerned?


  6. Anderson says:

    (That’s “What the flip,” a comment well within the judicious bounds of OTB’s comment policy, IMHO.)

  7. What I am saying is very straight forward. The emails I have seen aren’t a big deal. Now there are two ways to handle this. Either I don’t have all the facts (I admit this is a very strong possibility) in which case my asking for the additional facts you have would seem to me to be reasonable. Or I do have all the facts available and you are blowing this way out of proportion.

    But just reiterating your view with out providing the additional facts you seem to have isn’t like to change any ones mind.

    If you have facts, share them. It would be a public service to all.

  8. Anderson says:

    Okay, YAJ, assuming you missed the e-mail that broke the story, here’s the ABC item, which seems to’ve been scrubbed to include links only to fragments of the e-mails.

    –Okay, here’s the e-mail that the kid sent, reporting the previous e-mails & forwarding them. (Via Wiki.)

    Hastert et al. knew Foley was gay.

    Once they find out he’s sending e-mails to former pages, asking when’s their birthday and could he have a picture and isn’t so-and-so other page good-looking, that’s when you start investigating.

  9. Anderson says:

    I’ve sent links, YAJ, but they seem to be caught in the approval queue.

  10. Steve Verdon says:


    I just checked the Akismet spam que and didn’t see the posts.

  11. Ansderson,

    Thanks for the links.

    Just to be sure, I am going to re-print the entire emails from the ABC article.

    “glad your home safe and sound…we don’t go back into session until Sept. 5,,,,si its a nice long break…I am back in Florida now…its nice here…been raining today…it sounds like you will have some fun over the next few week…how old are you now?”

    “I am in North Carolina…and it was 100 in New that’s really hot…well do you miss DC…Its raining here but 68 degrees so who can argue…did you have fun at your conference…what do you want for your birthday coming up…what stuff do you like to do.”

    “how are you weathering the hurricane…are you safe…send me an email pic of you as well…”

    Maybe I have no Gaydar, but I really and honestly don’t see anything wrong with these messages at least as presented here. Maybe this is all in some sort of gay code that I just don’t understand, but if you asked me should a person be fired (or even talked to) about this, I would have a hard time thinking so.

    If we find a Barney Frank email asking a kid what he wants for his birthday, does he have to resign?

    In the other link it had one with

    “I just emailed will…hes such a niceguy…acts much older than his age…and hes in really great shape…i am just finished riding my bike on a 25 mile journey now heading to the gymn…whats school like for you this year?”

    So the closest thing is he mentions another guy is in really great shape and then the exercises he is doing. The person relaying the emails was saying “sick sick sick sick…” about the question on the hurricane.

    Am I missing something here? Is there some other emails that I don’t know about?

    I am not defending Foley given the IM show he was acting inappropriately. I am questioning the lynch mob aftert Hastert. If these emails are enough to you to warrant claiming Hastert was direlict in not censuring Foley, then I would be amazed if every congressman who has ever communicated with someone underage shouldn’t be censured.

    So his crime is
    1) He emailed former pages.
    2) Asked them when their birthday is.
    3) And while talking about his own exercise program mentions someone else is in “really great shape” (which to me is not the same as saying he is “really good looking”.
    Well lets get a rope and hang all the gays if this is enough to prove they are pedophiles.

    Please. Am I missing something here about what was known when? This information sure doesn’t persuade me. If it should persuade me, please point out the specific words that set off such warning bells for you.