Republicans should use alternative Foley defenses

If the Republican Party wants the Mark Foley scandal to fade quietly away as quickly as possible, it should change its tactics. Suspicion surrounding Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., isn’t helping.

It doesn’t help the Republican Party that Hastert may have had reason to suspect Foley’s proclivities for months, but the calls for Hastert to resign are largely symbolic. Republicans did the same thing when Bill Clinton was in office, although to be fair, Clinton went after adults – not children.

Even with the Hastert problem, however, the doom of the Republican Party is in no way assured due to Foley, provided it changes its tactics. That, however, is the problem – the tactics being used are idiotic, and none more so than those used by Bill Kristol.

Kristol is an analyst for Fox News and the editor of the Weekly Standard, a well-known conservative publication. He went on Fox News on Tuesday and told anchorman John Gibson that Florida shared some of the blame for Foley’s behavior.

Clearly, this was an attempt to “spearcatch” for the administration and Hastert. Needless to say, it wasn’t only inflammatory and insulting to the residents of Florida, it was egregiously wrong.

Foley’s actions may have besmirched the voters of Florida, but Foley’s actions are in no way Florida’s fault. Yes, Florida voted Foley into office, but if there had been the slightest public hint of Foley’s sexual perversions during the campaign or at any point in Foley’s life prior to his election, he would never have been elected. Considering Hastert may have sat on evidence that revealed suspicion of Foley’s proclivities, the residents of Florida couldn’t have known better. It could be argued that the Republican Party made sure they didn’t.

All the Republicans need to do is say something about the fact that Mark Foley is an individual, and his hidden sexual proclivities are both rejected by – as well as unreflective of – the Republican Party as a whole. It should say something akin to the idea that no matter how much Democrats might desire it, that votes cast for Foley on the ballot – his name can’t be deleted at this late stage – will not go to Foley, but to his substitute. The Republican Party does not have to convince people to vote for a suspected child molester. But these strategies are not the ones being used.

If the Republicans want any chance of maintaining control of the government, they need to stop blaming the rest of America for their own shortcomings.