In an effort to defend Speaker Dennis Hastert’s failure to act on warnings about Mark Foley’s predatory behavior, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, claimed on Fox News this morning, “The speaker’s job is to protect the majority. … Why would the speaker protect one member in a safe Republican seat? He would not try to risk the majority for that. There would be no reason for him to have that motivation.” Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA) responded that the prescise reason Hastert didn’t act was due to political considerations: “He didn’t want to risk his majority.” Watch it:
Hastert’s duty to protect the pages should have superceded his desire to “protect the majority.” Kingston’s comments underscore the reason why the House leadership has landed in the trouble they are now in. Rather than addressing the Foley scandal from the perspective of protecting children, the leadership turned a blind eye to the problem, viewing it as a threat to its political power. Some examples:
— Hastert acknowledged Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) came to inform him of Foley’s inappropriate emails “in the context of maybe a half a dozen or a dozen other things…that might have affected campaigns.”
— Hastert said the Foley scandal “is a political issue” and that “there are some people that try to tear us down.”
— Rather than address the issue in a bipartisan way that would have underscored a common desire to protect the young interns, the conservative chair of the House Page Board — Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) — refused to inform the Democrat on the committee — Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI).
KINGSTON: The speaker’s job is to protect the majority. We know that this race has been a 15-seat race to keep the majority. Why would the speaker protect one member in a safe Republican seat? He would not try to risk the majority for that. There would be no reason for him to have that motivation.
WALLACE: Congressman Meehan?
MEEHAN: I think the reason why he did it is because he didn’t want to risk his majority.