Throwing Gasoline on the Fire

Like I said earlier, the Republican leadership is now so politically tone-deaf, they might as well join the Connecticut for Lieberman party.

The chief of staff for Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds, Kirk Fordham, resigned after questions were raised about his role in the handling of the congressional page scandal, according to Republican sources on Capitol Hill.

Those sources said Fordham, a former chief of staff for Congressman Mark Foley, had urged Republican leaders last spring not to raise questionable Foley e-mails with the full Congressional Page Board, made up of two Republicans and a Democrat.

“He begged them not to tell the page board,” said one of the Republican sources.

People familiar with Fordham’s side of the story, however, said Fordham was being used as a scapegoat by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
. . .
Capitol Hill sources say Fordham’s resignation was demanded by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, whose job is on the line because of his handling of the page scandal.

Of course he’s being used a scapegoat. That much is obvious. What’s amusing is how this fits into the larger GOP strategy. What Hastert and Reynolds have insisted over the past few days is that they didn’t know enough about Foley to take any action and that there’s nothing wrong with their lack of response to the “sick sick sick sick” emails. In the face of enormous public pressure, they decide the best way to react to a situation in which they haven’t done anything wrong is to fire Reynolds’ chief of staff?! Doesn’t seem like the best way to proclaim your innocence, huh?

The most politically inept part of this latest move is the fact that their sacrificial lamb isn’t likely to look fondly on taking the heat for House Republican’s indifference to Rep. Foley’s sexual harassment. If Hastert and company think this is going to calm down the calls for their resignations, they’re in for a shock. Not only does this serve as a tacit admission that the GOP leadership didn’t do everything in their power to protect House pages, but throwing a well-connected staff member under the bus only serves to further alienate one of the people whose cooperation they need if they ever want to calm this situation down. Don’t piss off they guy who knows where all the bodies are buried.