Dennis (Denny) Hastert, was a “family values” Republican and former Speaker of the House. In fact, his eight-year reign made him the longest-running GOP speaker in history. As of this past week, he’s the highest ranking U.S. politician ever sent to prison. I thought I’d mention his heinous crimes lest he be long forgotten in our 24-hour news cycle culture.
While Hastert was convicted of banking violations, the monies he withdrew were paid to a man, identified in court papers only as “Individual A.” As a teenager, Individual A was sexually molested by Hastert, who was his wrestling coach. There were four other boys Hastert preyed on, one of whom reportedly committed suicide.
All of this took place in the 1960s and ’70s at Yorkville High School, about 45 minutes southwest of Chicago. Sentencing Hastert to prison for 15 months, the visibly angry U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin bluntly referred to him as a “serial child molester.” Hastert sat unmoving in a wheelchair, peering over the top of his eyeglasses, his hands folded before him.
Hastert would have received 15 years instead of 15 months were it not for the statute of limitations. Prosecutors described in graphic detail how Hastert would sit in a recliner in the locker room with a direct view of the showers. His victims were all boys between 14 and 17.
When Hastert was initially questioned by the FBI about his cash withdrawals, he said he was being extorted in a bogus sex charge. In fact, Hastert and Individual A had entered into a contract wherein Hastert, to avoid a civil suit, would pay $3.5 million. Hastert is now being sued for the remaining $2 million. (Begging the question, how did Hastert stash all that cash?)
Surprisingly, the GOP hasn’t condemned Hastert. Even worse, prominent friends of Hastert wrote Judge Durkin asking for leniency. Among them is Tom DeLay. (Nicknamed “Bugman” because he owned a pest control company.) Also a former House Speaker, DeLay wrote, “Denny Hastert doesn’t deserve what he’s going through.” What Hastert really “deserves” probably shouldn’t be printed in a family newspaper.
Shockingly, DeLay also wrote, “We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a man of strong faith and great integrity.” One rarely sees “integrity” and “child molester” in the same sentence. (Maybe DeLay inhaled too many of those pesticides.)
Hastert’s former GOP colleagues, Reps. Thomas Ewing, David Dreier, Porter Goss and John Doolittle, also submitted letters of support. You’d think, given the horrendous facts, they’d be embarrassed but evidently not.
Apparently, the Wrestling Hall of Fame has more “integrity” with regard to Hastert than the GOP. The WHOF has stripped Hastert of all honors given to him, while all Speaker Paul Ryan has done is remove a portrait of Hastert from the House chamber.
Clearly, the “family values” GOP has a rather spotty track record. For example, Newt Gingrich was cheating on his wife, divorced her, married his mistress and then cheated on her. Senator, Tom Vitter of Louisiana, frequented two brothels, one in his home state and one in Washington, D.C. He was known as “Diaper Boy” the details of which I will spare you. And yet, amazingly he was re-elected! (In November, 2015, he lost in an election for Governor and, thankfully, it appears Diaper Boy’s political career kaput.)
Continuing in this Family Values Hall of Shame is former Congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla) who was Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. He did so at the very same time he was “exploiting” underage pages. Former Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was convicted of soliciting a male prostitute in a Minnesota airport bathroom. Craig’s unique defense was that, while using the bathroom, he just had a “wide stance.”
Yet, the all-time GOP hypocrite has to be the presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. For example, he vehemently proclaims “China is raping the U.S.!” But where are Don the Con’s ties, suits and clothing manufactured? China! Trump’s signature issue is undocumented workers and yet he was fined $1,000,000 for employing … undocumented workers!
Trump promises to, “build a wall,” “ban Muslims,” “bring back waterboarding or worse” and said women seeking abortions “should be punished.” Last Sunday he called Pulitzer Prize columnist, George Will, “a moron!” And Tuesday, he said Ted Cruz’s father “probably helped kill JFK.”
With his temper, Trump anywhere near the nuclear button, is absolutely terrifying. But, who’s more contemptible, Hastert or Trump, I recall President Eisenhower in the waning weeks of the 1960 election. When asked what presidential candidate Richard Nixon had contributed to his administration as V.P. for 8 years, Ike responded, “Can I get back to you on that?”
In closing, Trump’s apparent nomination is a disheartening reflection of how low the presidential bar has fallen. That said, David Duke and the KKK must be thrilled.