Sunday, October 01, 2006

John Hinderaker Defends Denny Hastert

Glenn Greenwald has a very long and thorough commentary on right-wing bloggers' public response to Rep. Mark Foley's sexual harassment of his 16-year-old male page. In particular, Glenn spotlights John Hinderaker's defense of Denny Hastert against charges that he had been told about Foley's behavior, did nothing about it, and then proceeded, first, to deny that anyone had told him about what Foley was doing, and next, to claim he did not remember being told:

There are numerous intellectually honest conservatives who are viciously criticizing Denny Hastert and even demanding his resignation for his role in covering-up Mark Foley's predatory conduct and then lying about it once the story broke. And there are also some generally rational though deeply misguided defenses of Hastert being mounted elsewhere by some Bush followers. And then -- in a category of its own -- there is this defense of Hastert, promoted by Instapundit, and authored by John Hinderaker.

After reviewing the fact that Hastert was told months ago about the e-mails sent by Foley to the 16-year-old page (a fact which Hastert first categorically denied and -- after Reps. Reynolds and Boehner both said they told Hastert -- he now claims not to recall), Hinderaker offers this defense of Hastert:

I've never been Speaker of the House, but I can imagine that such a conversation would not be among the most significant Hastert has had in the last year, and would not necessarily make a deep impression. Foley was, I take it, generally assumed to be gay.

Hinderaker then devotes two paragraphs to discussing the cases of Gerry Studds and Barney Frank -- two other gay Congressmen involved in sex scandals (with individuals of legal age) -- and Hinderaker then says:

So I'm not particularly surprised that Foley wrote some over-friendly"--I'm sure I would find them creepy--emails to one or more underage pages.

So as best I can tell, this is Hinderaker's defense: Hastert knew that Foley was gay, so it would hardly have been a surprise to Hastert to learn that Foley was harrassing underage pages. Hastert is a very busy and important man and something as unsurprising as the fact that the homosexual Foley was a sexual predator pursuing underage pages would hardly have been news to Hastert and certainly isn't anything that should have prompted his attention. A gay Congressman pursues minors, the sun comes up in the morning. That's just the way the world works. Why would Hastert take notice?

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