Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Taking Stock of Republican Bottoms

If you put faith in political polls and such, you might want to check in, now and then, on the Iowa Political Markets to see how fast and far the prospects drop of retaining a Republican congressional majority. For those who aren't familiar with this plaything of the Iowa School of Business, Peter Levine offers this succinct description:
"A well-known experiment, run by Iowa Electronic Markets, allows traders to place bets on the outcome of political elections... . According to a paper by Joyce Berg and others, the Iowa Political Market has outperformed polls in predicting 9 out of 15 elections. Its average error in predicting election results is about 1.5%, compared to about 2% for an average poll. In some past elections, the Market avoided major errors that marred all the major national surveys, whereas it has never made a gross mistake itself."
There isn't a market for G.O.P. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, but we're guessing his stock is heading for the bottom just as fast. Check out this roundup of newspaper views and reports:

St. Petersburg Times:
"'I think the speaker is being remarkably naive, and you have to question whether it's intentional or because he truly doesn't have a clue,'" said Steve Crawford, a former federal prosecutor in Tampa."
Washington Times:
"The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. * * * House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once."
New York Times:
"That House leaders knew Representative Mark Foley had been sending inappropriate e-mail to Capitol pages and did little about it is terrible. It is also the latest in a long, depressing pattern: When there is a choice between the right thing to do and the easiest route to perpetuation of power, top Republicans always pick wrong."

"It’s astonishing behavior for a party that sold itself as the champion of conservative social values. But then so was the fact that a party that prides itself on fiscal conservatism managed to roll up record-breaking deficits, featuring large amounts of wasteful pork earmarked to the districts of powerful legislators or the profit sheets of generous campaign contributors. So was the speed with which the party that billed itself as the voice of grass-roots exurban and suburban America turned itself into the partner of every special-interest lobbyist with a checkbook."
Los Angeles Times:
"Years before sexually explicit electronic messages sent by Rep. Mark Foley to teenage House pages became public last week, some on Capitol Hill say, the Florida Republican was known to have a special interest in younger men.

"In interviews with the Los Angeles Times, several current and former congressional employees and others said they recalled Foley approaching young male pages, aides and interns at parties and other venues.

"'Almost the first day I got there I was warned,' said Mark Beck-Heyman, a San Diego native who served as a page in the House of Representatives in the summer of 1995. 'It was no secret that Foley had a special interest in male pages,' said Beck-Heyman, adding that Foley, who is now 52, on several occasions asked him out for ice cream.

"Another former congressional staff member said he too had been the object of Foley's advances. 'It was so well known around the House. Pages passed it along from class to class,' said the former aide, adding that when he was 18 a few years ago and working as an intern, Foley approached him at a bar near the Capitol and asked for his e-mail address."
Even if some was available, we wouldn't be buying Majority Leader John Boehner's stock, either. Glenn Greenwald makes a pretty good case for selling him short, too:
"So: (a) Boehner told Hastert about Foley and Hastert assured him they were 'taking care of it'; (b) Boehner does not remember whether he ever talked to Hastert about Foley; (c) Boehner affirmatively claims that it 'is not true' that he spoke with Hastert; and now, (d) Boehner is '99 percent' sure he talked to Hastert about Foley but remembers nothing about the converstaion. Does that sound like someone qualified to be Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, let alone Denny Hastert's replacement for Speaker of the House?"

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