Saturday, May 30, 2015

A sex scandal? How will it stick! How unfortunate that it will do so

The Los Angeles Times is a lot bolder than I am – reporting Friday that the activity former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert was willing to pay so much to cover up was sexual in nature.

HASTERT: How quickly his life changed
The rumor-mongers had been trying to get me to believe this earlier. Although not with the level of detail that the Times offered up, nor from as high-level of sources as the newspaper seems to have.

ACCORDING TO THE Times, they have two federal law enforcement officials who say the person who was receiving money from Hastert was a man who was once a student back when Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

“It was sex,” was the explanation given by that source as to why Hastert would have given the man some $1.7 million in recent years to not talk about what supposedly happened several decades ago. Although it is interesting to see the Chicago Tribune report that officials at Yorkville High School say they had no clue there was anything inappropriate about the way Hastert conducted himself while working there. But the Chicago Sun-Times hinted Friday there may be a second person involved in the case.

Most likely, the conduct was so long ago that any statute of limitations on such charges would have passed. So this is going to be a criminal case that focuses on financial details related to the payoff. Just like Al Capone getting busted on income tax evasion – rather than any of the illicit activity that made Chicago so vicious in the 1920s.

We’re probably never going to get total titillation about Hastert and one of his students – which may be for the best! I have trouble thinking of the possible student as a victim if his reaction was to resort to extortion.

WHAT ALL THIS actually reminds me of is the 2004 election cycle when Jack Ryan had his dreams of becoming a political persona squashed when details of his divorce from actress Jeri Ryan came out.

We wound up getting tales of Ryan trying to take his voluptuous semi-celebrity bride to sex clubs and try to get her to engage in acts some might call kinky.

RYAN: His political reputation died just as quick
We never got the concept of “U.S. Sen. Jack Ryan, R-Ill.” because he dropped out of the campaign. His career ended before it could begin.

Hastert is just the opposite. None of this came out until after he left office and became a high-priced D.C. lobbyist. Although I suspect the effect on his public reputation will be just as dramatic.

SO WHAT SHOULD we think about all of this?

I found it interesting that people were digging up and sending Internet links to me of pieces published on the Daily Kos website back in 2006 under the headlines Is Dennis Hastert gay? and Is Hastert gay?

These pieces were motivated by the activity back then when Florida congressman Mark Foley was sending e-mails and instant messages to teenage boys he had known when they worked as pages in Congress. A lot of Republican officials got smeared by similar innuendo; including "Mr. Speaker" himself.

Although I’m not saying to have any knowledge of Hastert’s personal life or activity. IN fact, I’m inclined to think that the pieces are a bit of a stretch for the facts that purport to support them.

BUT I’M SURE others are going to feel compelled to spread the smut level – even if they don’t have any true titillation to back it up. We’re going to get a sex scandal that some will think just won’t amount to much.

But I’m sure others just won’t care. That may wind up being the biggest tragedy of this whole situation.


DURKIN: Hastert's judge
EDITOR’S NOTE: Perhaps “All In the Family” is an appropriate title for government. Hastert’s criminal case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin – a Barack Obama appointee but also the brother of Illinois House Minority Leader James Durkin, R-Western Springs. Durkin (the judge) used to be a partner in the law firm of Mayer Brown – where Hastert’s son, Ethan, is now an attorney.

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