Hastert must resign

Maggie Gallagher
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Posted: Oct 04, 2006 12:01 AM
Hastert must resign

What happened in the Amish countryside this week was not just "sick" or "monstrous" or even "evil" It was demonic.

A good family man gets up in the morning, drops his three kids off at the school bus stop, then drives to a school where he can find young girls to tie up and slaughter.

Here is the first lesson: If an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the bucolic Pennsylvania countryside is not safe for our children, then there is no place that is safe. There is nowhere to hide, no place to run to. Evil is not just "out there" with the terrorists; it is "in here" with us.

In the darkest moments, there are unexpected grace notes. For me, it came from the gunman's wife. How do you live with knowing your beloved husband of 10 years, the man who lovingly changed your babies' diapers, could do something like this? Somehow, through a spokesman, she found these words to send to us: "Our hearts are broken, our lives are shattered, and we grieve for the innocence and lives that were lost today. Above all, please pray for the families who lost children, and please pray too for our family and children."

I will. I do. I even pray for your lost husband. There but for the grace of God goes who else?

Evil is not just "out there"; it is next to us, inside of us.

But as a character in the new Sean Penn film "All the King's Men" put it (I'm quoting from memory): "Just because everything else is filthy doesn't mean a man has to be." Republicans on Capitol Hill are desperately hoping to divert us from the Mark Foley scandal with a new storyline: Dem dirty tricks. Why did these disgusting e-mails come out just a few weeks before a critical election? It is true the party of Bill Clinton, Gerry Studds and Barney Frank is not going to clean out the sexual cesspool, but frankly I don't care: I'm not responsible for what they do.

I know there is a dirt, a stain on the human soul, that I cannot through my own power fully escape. But I do not have to wallow in the mud; I do not have to be complicit. I do not choose to look the other way.

Rep. Dennis Hastert is a basically decent man who happens to head up a party that failed to investigate evidence that a GOP congressman (widely known among insiders to be gay) was seeking inappropriate contact with minor boys entrusted to his care. The Washington Times is right: He should resign his leadership post.

So should Rep. Tom Reynolds, the House GOP campaign chairman, who according to news accounts said: "I don't think I went wrong at all; I don't know what else I could have done."

I do.

The Democrats' response is a transparently political and deeply despicable effort to confuse voters into believing that GOP leaders knew about and ignored sexually explicit e-mails. But I don't care. It is enough for me that GOP leaders knew that a parent and child had lodged a complaint. They should at a minimum have questioned other pages to find out if other boys may have been involved.

A full investigation must now take place, and Dennis Hastert simply cannot credibly oversee it. Yes, that investigation must include finding out why this sordid story, involving potential threats to children, emerged only a few weeks before an election. Anyone who sat on or set up this story with partisan motives should be exposed. But first things first.

With great power comes great responsibility. Memo to GOP House leaders: Have the decency to accept responsibility and resign from leadership. Or come November, I vote to let the other side put their bums in charge.