Granted, the prospect of three consecutive Republican House Speakers resigning in disgrace is a less than impressive legacy for coming generations of GOP leaders — and a clue for swing voters in upcomming congressional elections. But the disgrace has already happened, and a growing chorus of conservatives is calling on Speaker Hastert to resign in connection with his ineffectual ‘leadership’ in the Foley mess.
First there was the Washington Times, not exactly the intellectual vanguard organ of the conservative movement. Now, however, the higher-browed conservative opinion leaders have begun to weigh in. Bloomberg.com quotes Tom Winter, editor-in-chief of the conservative weekly magazine Human Events:
We think the Republicans need new leaders, and I don’t think Hastert will be there much longer…I think he has to do this for the team, he has to step down.
Maggie Gallagher can’t resist getting in a few licks against the Democrats en passant, but she gets to the point in her National Review Column “Hastert Must Resign,” as does NRO National Economics Editor Larry Kudlow in “Step Aside, Speaker Hastert: This goes way beyond Foley.” The NRO’s editorial can’t quite embrace the inevitable just yet, citing House Republican leaders’ “evasion of responsibility” but calling instead for the heads of Rep. John Shimkus and unnamed aides of the Speaker. Nor can the ostrich-heads at two other leading conservative rags, The Weekly Standard and Commentary, who don’t even mention the Foley mess on their web pages as of Thursday morning. Presumably, they will all be dragged, kicking and screaming into the chilly October reality in the days ahead.
To be fair, it’s not just Hastert. NRCC Chair Thomas M. Reynolds has made a horrible mess of things, and may lose his own election, if he isn’t forced to resign from his leadership post. Kos has a report on the latest poll in his district here.
Meanwhile, Democratic campaigns looking for guidance in dealing with the GOP leadership meltdown should check out McJoan’s post at Daily Kos featuring quotes from eight Democratic “netroots” candidates for congress, addressing GOP leaders’ accountability for this and other Republican failures.
All of this may give the Dems a bump on November 7, but it would be a mistake to count on it. Dem leaders should continue to insist on full accountability, but make sure to take every opportunity to articulate a clear vision and agenda that can move America forward.