How often is it the case that the perpetrators of the most heinous offenses are often describe by their family and friends as the nicest, most wonderful people you could ever imagine meeting? Such is the case with Dennis Hastert, former Republican Speaker of the House and now exposed in court as a full-fledged pedophile.
That Hastert did what he did is beyond question; he has confessed to it, no doubt in the hope that the confession would, along with his deteriorating medical condition, earn him some measure of compassion, the same compassion Hastert denied his victims. But the cursed Republican capacity for blind loyalty to a fellow-traveller is on full display, just in case Hastert's confession and dementia aren't enough to prevent him from doing serious prison time. As detailed here, Hastert's former House colleagues have all written letters to the court where Hastert is on trial. All of these letters allegedly attest to his many sterling Christian qualities.
Given the fact that the charge of the writing brigade on Hastert's behalf is being led by Tom Delay, a man who has faced his own running of the legal gauntlet, one feels free to question the seriousness that these testimonials should be given, Even more, given the damage that Hastert has done to the lives of young men who didn't expect their wrestling coach to fill the rest of their lives with emotional torment, one wonders if Hastert should really be given any leniency at all. On the other hand, prison is certainly not the place in which a child molester is likely to find any leniency; child molesters are at the bottom of the convict social totem pole, and don't always finish out their sentences as a result.
Whatever Hastert's legal fate, the revelation of his perverted conduct is an occasion to reflect on his career as House Speaker, which saw the birth of the "Hastert Rule," the rule by which the House was and is only allowed to consider legislation supported by "the majority of the majority"--i.e., most of the House Republican caucus Even if that meant the considering of legislation supported by only a minority of the full House, and even if it meant that no bill supported by an overwhelming bipartisan majority could be enacted, the Rule had to be followed at all costs.
We have seen, all too graphically, how this sort of posturing for the sake of maintaining power at the expense of the people's wishes and needs has entirely corrupted and poisoned Washington and, worse yet, left the entire country in turmoil and near-revolt. In spite of this, and in spite of the public disgrace of its creator, the Hastert Rule still controls the House, and therefore Congress, in zombie-like style Which is not surprising, given the 12th Commandment of Republican politics (after not speaking ill of a fellow Republican): thou shalt not ever, ever, admit a mistake.
I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, and cannot speak to the sources of pedophilia. But I think it's fair to say that the Hastert Rule can be said to have its source in an old-fashion lust for power and control--and, underneath that, a deep-seated sense of insecurity and self-worthlessness that wrongly feels that power in any form can cure it. It would not surprise me if pedophilia doesn't stem from the same sort of psychological phenomenon. It has seemed to me for some time that most forms of sexual deviancy are some sort of effort to project an illusory image of power over a seemingly defenseless victim--even if the victim is somehow said to "enjoy it."
With all of this in mind, and with a deep sense of humility that comes from contemplating the pain of Hastert's victims, I nevertheless call on Democrats and progressives all across the country to declare war on what should be called the "Hastert Congress"--a Congress obsessed with its own sense of power rather than the concerns of the voters that elected it. And there should be no embarrassment provoked by accusations that they would be somehow exploiting the pain of Hastert's victims. On the contrary, they would be avenging it, as well as the pain the American people have experience as a consequence of Hastert's political lust.
I fear, however, that Democrats will shrink at the thought of doing this. They will think that it's not nice, not "classy" to do this. Well, how classy have Hastert and his colleagues been. They have lived by the sword It's time for them to die politically by it--and for Democrats to show American that they are strong as well as compassionate. They need to do so; Hastert is living proof that Republicans are neither.