WASHINGTON, Oct. 4
Wednesday realities of the Mark Foley story:
1. No strategist in either party -- including former/current Hastert adviser John Feehery -- thinks the Speaker has done enough to deal with the fallout.
2. Try as they might, Hastert and other leaders will not, by Election Day, be able to get the public, the press, and even their own Conference members, to focus on the difference between the non-sexual e-mails to the boy in Louisiana and the highly sexual IMs that surfaced later.
3. Try as they might, Hastert and other leaders will not, by Election Day, be able to get the public, the press, and even their own Conference members, to believe that they knew only about the non-sexual e-mails to the boy in Louisiana and not the highly sexual IMs that surfaced later.
4. Try as he might, Hastert will not, by Election Day, be able to get the public, the press, and PARTICULARLY his own Conference members, to believe that his staff handled the parent's complaint without deciding to "bump it up" to him, as the Speaker put it.
5. Until the Leadership takes an unambiguous position on whether the Foley matter was well handled or not, the boat will continue to take on water; if they take the unambiguous position that it was handled well, the boat will continue to take on water.
6. The White House and the RNC remain silent, pained bystanders in all this.
7. For years and years, there have been many semi-open and fully closeted homosexuals at senior staff and elected positions in the Republican Party. The heterosexual members of the Leadership and in the White House have maintained different levels of awareness and tolerance of this. Behind the scenes, this is a big deal.
8. Until there is (unobtainable) evidence to the contrary, many Republican strategists will fear (and many Democrats will hope) that the Foley scandal will give the Democrats control of Congress.
9. It is impossible to rank these series of relationships from most-venom-filled to least-venom-filled at this point: mother-daughter, landlord-tenant, Hastert-Boehner, Boehner-Blunt, Blunt-Hastert, Reynolds-Hastert, Emanuel-Dean, Yankees-Red Sox.
10. No matter what the facts, the die-hard members of the conservative Freak Show apparatus will continue to raise questions about the timing of all this and about the liberal Old Media's role in publicizing the Foley scandal, and try to rally the base by saying, "don't let ABC News and George Soros decide this election."
11. If #10 really is the mind-set of the Speaker -- as opposed to just the talking points he has agreed to read to Rush, Sean, etc. -- Tony Blankley, Ken Mehlman, and others will not be able to convince him that anti-media base rallying might alienate suburban mothers everywhere and seem out of touch.
12. Even the Democrats can't screw this up, and there's nothing they can do that would cause the Old Media to accuse them of politicizing the story.
13. Nothing would make the press happier than getting a big scalp, such as the resignation of Speaker Hastert.
14. It is easier for Republican House members and candidates to call for Hastert to not return as Speaker in January than it is for them to call for him to step down now, and that is what reporters are going to start asking about.
14. "Maddog" Madden (having survived DeLay) is thriving in his bunker, pumping out a steady strafe of bullet points bolstering Mr. Boehner's case.