Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Denny Hastert isn’t about to give the public a load of legal titillation

J. Dennis Hastert, the one-time speaker of the House of Representatives who allegedly made payoffs to try to keep people quiet with their stories about sexual indiscretions occurring decades ago, is going to bear a little bit of shame

HASTERT: From the old days of glory
He’s scheduled to make an appearance at the U.S. District courthouse in Chicago, with the understanding that he will enter pleas of “guilty” to select criminal charges.

HE’S GOING TO be captured on video cameras making the “perp walk” and those images will linger on for years to come – any time he is mentioned in the future he will be a convicted felon.

There are even some news reports that already are using the phrase “the highest-ranking Illinois politician ever convicted” to describe Denny Hastert.

So yes, Hastert is going to endure a certain level of shame on Wednesday. I’m sure he’s going to view the day as the most humiliating experience he ever endures. His backers will probably claim his ordeal is one no one deserves to go through.

But let’s be honest. There are going to be a load of other people who will be convinced that Hastert – one of only three men from Illinois who ever became the leader of the House of Representatives, a position that Rahm Emanuel himself once aspired to – didn’t suffer anywhere near as much as they think he should.

THEY’RE ALSO GOING to rant and rage about how unjust it is that we don’t get more graphic detail about what exactly it is that Hastert has done. For the reality is that the word “allegedly” is forevermore going to be backed onto the accusations made against Denny.

No one is ever likely to fulfill the titillation level that some people are determined to raise this case up to. There’s going to be a lot of self-righteous rhetoric about how justice was not served and how the federal government is somehow covering up for Hastert.

Although I really suspect what they’re going to be upset about is that they didn’t get some sordid sex tale to pass around amongst themselves.

Because the limited reports that have come out contend that Hastert, back when he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, got sexually involved with some of his student athletes.

SUPPOSEDLY, HASTERT MADE promises to pay some $3.5 million to people to get them to keep their mouths shut. Some $1.7 million was actually paid, and federal investigators contend that nearly $1 million was withdrawn in ways that violate federal law.

Yes, there are laws restricting the ways that bank withdrawals are made – meant to interfere with money’s use for potential in criminal activity. It seems that the Hastert criminal case is about financial technicalities.

Which are what will be focused on come the court hearing on Wednesday. The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that former federal prosecutors said the current prosecutors would focus solely on what facts are necessary to prove the financial offenses.

And if it turns out that Hastert appears to be cooperating by entering a guilty plea that reduces the focus of charges even further, then that reduces the titillation factor even further.

WE’RE NOT GOING to be writing sex stories about something Denny did back in his early 1970s days as a wrestling coach. We may not even get many financial details that would portray him as some sort of wealthy hack.

It may wind up becoming the most overrated guilty plea and sentencing on our political scene – a whole lot of anticipation and a whole lot of nothing in result.

And considering that Hastert’s time as a political person is complete (just like one-time 10th Ward Alderman Edward R. Vrdolyak), his actual loss will be minimal.

No matter how much he says he’s humiliated beyond belief.


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