October 2, 2006
In an obvious attempt to influence the upcoming elections in favor of the Democrats, two new scandals were uncorked this weekend. First, vague "news reports" disclosed that Rep. Mark Foley carried on some kind of disgusting relationship with a House page. Unlike Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, or any number of ethically challenged Democrats, Foley at least had the sense to resign immediately for the good of his party. Speaker Dennis Hastert objected to the release of the unwholesome e-mail messages, but some conservatives think he is on shaky ethical ground himself. For example, Ed Morrissey claims that Hastert was told about Foley almost a year ago, and is part of the coverup. (via nationaljournal.com, via Instapundit) This mess only adds to the impression that Republican leaders loathe to do anything that might loosen their grip on power.
The other bombshell exposé came from Bob Woodward, who appeared on the Today show to plug his new book, State of Denial, about Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld's refusal to face up to the ugly situation in Iraq, and their stubborn resistance to suggestions from military commanders. (See Washington Post.) These criticisms are hardly news, and I have more than once opined that Bush has a lot to answer for being so isolated from friendly expert advice, but Woodward insists that his book brings fresh new evidence to light, from his interviews. Maybe. He frankly admitted that his publishers wanted the book to come out before the election -- for business reasons, of course. In response, White House spokesman Tony Snow did a creditable job rebutting the main charges, wisely acknowledging that the book no doubt contains much true information. I hope Bush appreciates what a huge asset Snow is at this difficult moment.
Perhaps I am too complacent, but I still don't think the Democrats have made a convincing case to the public that they are any better equipped to lead the country than the Republicans. Besides, gas prices are still dropping, at an opportune moment for the GOP incumbents. In today's Washington Post, Sebastian Mallaby, who seems to represent the left-of-center Washington establishment, finds nothing to get excited about from the Democrats: "They clearly want power, but they have no principles to guide their use of it." I take exception, however, to the issue that has Mallaby riled up: Many Democrats went along with the majority and voted to build a 700 mile fence along the Mexican border. I have reservations about going to such extreme lengths with such a fence, but the fact is that our border is a joke, and something must be done about it. That is not a racist position. We don't need such a fence on our border with Canada because it is not being violated nearly as much. We are fortunate that many Democrats have enough sense to realize that serious action is necessary.