While the Foley flap is still being pushed to the top of the evening news and may still dominate some of the talk shows this weekend, the story is already beginning to lose some momentum. And well it should. William Kristol writes at the Weekly Standard that the attempt to make Mark Foley an issue in the November election is flopping:
Repelled by former Republican congressman Mark Foley's sexual overtures to ongressional pages and ex-pages, and by the House GOP leadership's alleged failure to move aggressively against him? Vote Democratic. Worried about the Democrats' tendency to coddle jihadists? Vote Republican.
This is a choice that should work out fine for Republicans. Which is why Democrats and the media may look back on the frenzy about Foley as a tactical mistake. In a time of disturbing foreign news--apparent lack of progress in Iraq, North Korea's threat of a nuclear test, Pakistan's cutting a deal with al Qaeda, Iran's nuclear program chugging ahead--the assault on the Republicans focused on a disgraced and departed congressman and the unquestionably decent speaker of the House, Denny Hastert.
Foley is a creep. The House leadership might have stumbled in dealing with him. But . . . [will] voters really be convinced that Denny Hastert "knowingly ignored the welfare of children to protect [his] own power?" From what we know, Hastert didn't find out about Foley's lurid behavior until a week ago, and then Foley was quickly gone. And how exactly did ignoring Foley's behavior help protect GOP power? His district is a safe Republican seat (except now, when Republicans are stuck with Foley's name on the ballot).
The attempt to make Foley a key issue in this fall's election is flopping. It's not credible to tar a political party with the misdeeds of one person.
As Kirstol points out, national polls taken last week were basically unchanged from pre-Foley polls. The GOP is still in trouble, but the Foley flap hasn't changed the big picture. It's doubtful that the story has enough legs to make it to November.