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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Don’t Blame Us!

As the Mark Foley scandal continues to wreak havoc in Republican Washington, the primary evasions pursued in GOP/conservative circles have begun to congeal. As Mark Schmitt nicely runs it down over at TPMCafe, the first (which I wrote about yesterday), is the ol’ liberal-culture-of-permissiveness chesnut, according to which the kind of behavior Mark Foley exhibited has been championed by Democrats generally and gay rights activists in particular. The second, which is gaining steam, is that Democrats and/or the liberal media sat on the Foley IMs until this very moment, risking further damage to pages in order to time the scandal for maximum pre-election havoc. According to this masterpiece of fact-free innuendo, the GOP’s enemies knew vastly more than poor old Denny Hastert about Foley’s misdeeds, and are therefore the real culprits here. (Schmitt explodes one variant of this theory very effectively).There’s also a sort of hybrid conspiracy theory in the works, centering on Kirk Fordham, former chief of staff to Foley and (until he was fired today) chief of staff to NRCC chair Tom Reynolds, who’s drawing as much fire as Hastert. Fordham, it transpires, is openly gay. As Michael Crowley explains at TNR’s The Plank, House GOP sources are bruiting it about that Fordham was part of a “gay cabal” of Republican Hill staffers who protected Foley and suppressed information about his behavior towards pages. David Corn reports there is even a list of cabal members circulating around Washington.Fordham certainly raised the stakes on this particular gambit by announcing today that far from protecting Foley, he told Hastert’s staff about Foley’s friskiness towards pages in 2004, long before Hastert was given copies of the “over-friendly” emails that he proceeded to ignore. If Fordham’s allegation can be corroborated, Hastert will probably be forced to resign. But either way, the GOP leadership and their chattering-class enablers will go to almost any lengths to point fingers anywhere other than at themselves. And these are the guys who cheered back in 2000 when George W. Bush kept promising to usher in a “responsibility era.”

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