A couple of days ago, Americablog reported rumors of another secretly gay Republican congressperson
involved in scandal. John Aravosis refused to divulge the name (even in private correspondence -- yes, I was nebby enough to ask), although his published piece cleverly hinted that the "mystery gay" was House Speaker Denny Hastert himself. Now, a number of web sites -- and even Randi Rhodes! -- have reported that Hastert is indeed the man on the hot seat.
(The nature of this scandal is such that avoiding
double entendres is tougher than coming up with 'em.)
Here is Lawrence O'Donnell, writing on Hastert's Chief of Staff Scott Palmer, who is seen as the real power behind the Speaker: ("Heh heh. He said 'staff.' And 'Palmer.' And 'behind.'" "Shut up, Beavis..."
Many chiefs of staff are close, very close, to their bosses on Capitol Hill. But none are closer than Scott Palmer is to Denny Hastert. They don't just work together all day, they live together.
There are plenty of odd couple Congressmen who have roomed together on Capitol Hill, but I have never heard of a chief of staff who rooms with his boss. It is beyond unusual. But it must have its advantages. Anything they forget to tell each other at the office, they have until bedtime to catch up on. And then there's breakfast for anything they forgot to tell each other before falling asleep. And then there's all day at the office.
What about the irresponsible rumor that Hastert's wife, when in DC, maintains Denny and Scotty's privacy by staying at a hotel? Turns out that "rumor" found ink in no lesser source than the Chicago Sun-Times
-- in a column published on (get this!) Valentine's Day:
Just ran into Jean Hastert, the wife of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in the hallway outside the speakers' Capitol office suite. She just dropped in on her husband.
It's a rare D.C. appearence for Mrs. Hastert. She was here a few weeks ago for President Bush's State of the Union address. She was off to an afternoon tea, at an ambassador's residence, sponsored by some international group.
When in Washington, the speaker lives in a group house with his chief of staff, Scott Palmer and top deputy, Mike Stokke.
I asked her if she is bunking with the guys.
She is not. She stays in a hotel.
Repeat: Valentine's Day.
Okay, so we have Denny and Scotty and Mikey under the same roof. Anyone else? Well, according to Mike Rogers
-- who may be the person behind the "Stop Sex Predators" blog -- Sam Lancaster, a $150,000 Director of Speaker Operations for Denny Hastert, is also gay. I do not know if this allegation is true; feel free to ask Rogers for confirmation.
, as is his wont, takes this story into very strange territory. Apply all the usual qualifiers and disclaimers to the following.
WMR has also learned of additional Senate links to the Pagegate scandal. There is much focus on GOP Sen. George Allen's predominantly white male staff. There is also interest in the activities of a senior GOP Senator from a Rocky Mountain state.
I've heard rumors about Allen from another source. So far, nothing substantial has surfaced, even if we allow for the loosest definition of the word "substantial."
WMR's State Department sources have also reported that the visits of Hastert and other congressional leaders and staff members to certain Southeast Asian nations and the Northern Marianas should come under the scrutiny of the House Ethics Committee, now officially investigating "Pagegate." The Northern Marianas became infamous in the scandals involving Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff because of the presence in the US slave labor territory of Asian children being used as prostitutes. Conveniently, Foley co-chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which would have had authority to investigate charges of child prostitution in the Northern Marianas.
Madsen has more, including the wildest theory on the John Mark Karr affair ever mooted.
All of which leaves humble bloggers such as myself in something of a quandary. Is it ethical for a progressive writer to discuss Denny Hastert's unusual living arrangements?
I can't pretend that writing this post has made me feel comfortable.
And yet...if Madsen's vague allegations pan out into something tangible, the Marianas angle may prove of genuine importance. We have every right to ask why this Republican congress has done nothing to staunch -- and much to enable -- enforced prostitution and child abuse on what is, after all, American territory.
Beyond that, I must confess that I became really, really, really
pissed off by the recent G.O.P. attempts to blame Foley-gate on Nancy Pelosi, George Soros and Bill Clinton. Those damnable lies have expanded my definition of permissible return fire.
, we have the undeniable facts that Hastert is Bush's enabler, and Bush would not have his job without the votes of this nation's gay-bashers. Force that constituency to see how the world really
works and history will change.