Friday, October 06, 2006

Bass' Evolving Position on Hastert

Friday, September 29: Florida Representative Mark Foley resigns due to revelations of sexually explicit emails and IMs sent to teenage Congressional pages. Information quickly begins emerging that House Republican leadership, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner, and National Republican Congressional Committee head Tom Reynolds have all known of Foley's inappropriate behavior for months or even years and have covered it up for political benefit.

Saturday, September 30: Republican Congressmen Peter King and Chris Shays call for any leader who knew about Foley's behavior and didn't take action to step down.

Wednesday, October 4: Charlie Bass finally makes a public statement:
"I have to take the speaker's word (that he had no knowledge of the conversations)," Bass said in an interview. "Why would they cover it up?" he asked.
Thursday, October 5: Bass' position develops a small wiggle:
“I’m watching . . . this situation very closely,” Bass said. “If the speaker said he didn’t know about it, he probably didn’t.

“But he had people working for him, and he has a responsibility, as I obviously know, for the behavior of his staff.”
Friday, October 6: Bass' finger in the political wind tells him to change course:

"For the good of the House of Representatives and our nation, the questions about who had what knowledge about Mark Foley's behavior must be resolved quickly and thoroughly."

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"If the Speaker or his staff had information that any House page was at risk and failed to take appropriate steps, the Speaker should resign.

Let's be clear. This is not Bass taking a principled stand. This is Bass having held out as long as he possibly could before saying anything that might offend Hastert, in case Hastert remained in a leadership position. Only when it became absolutely clear that not only did Hastert know, but that the American public cared that Hastert knew and was demanding accountability, only then did Bass venture farther than "if he says it it must be true."

If Bass was the independent he'd like us to believe he is, he'd have called firmly and unequivocally for an investigation immediately after Foley's resignation. He'd have acknowledged that, given the number of fingers pointed in Hastert's direction, Hastert's conduct in possibly covering up Foley's behavior was one of the things that needed to be investigated. He did not do those things. Instead, his positions were not only politically expedient, they were politically expedient from the point of view of someone cravenly beholden to the Republican leadership.

It is enablers like Charlie Bass that have made the Republican culture of corruption viable these last several years. The only path to accountability - accountability for Iraq, accountability for torture, accountability for sexual predation - is to change control of Congress. In New Hampshire's second district, that means electing Paul Hodes.

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