"Foleygate is front and central now, as it must and I suppose should be. But let's not forget the Woodward book revelation about Condi Rice. So much of what is reported to be in Woodward's book (I haven't read it) merely confirms the tragic and scandalous tale most of our already know. The significance is the establishment imprimatur. But if Woodward is right, Condi Rice not only flubbed an opportunity to disrupt the 9/11 plot but she also fibbed on a very material point to the 9/11 Commission."
"Here at TPM, as well as at TPMmuckraker and Election Central we're going to be devoting a lot of resources over the coming days to covering the unfolding Foley scandal. But I've gotten a lot of questions about the larger political impact of this debacle. So I'd like to draw back for a moment to take stock of that question.
I think it's a pretty safe assumption at this point that Democrat Tim Mahoney will win Mark Foley's seat on November 7th. But I'd say that'll be relatively far down the list of eventual consequences.
The simple fact is that Foley's downfall has pretty nearly decapitated the leadership of the House GOP with just five weeks to go before election day. And that's devastating.
What do I mean by decapitated? Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that nothing else really comes out about how the House leadership handled this. No more shoes drop. Not a safe assumption from what seems to be in the reporting pipeline. But let's assume it.
Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) is in a tight race for reelection and he's chairman of the NRCC, the Republican House campaign committee. He's in charge of the effort to keep the majority.
What's the number one thing on his mind right now? I doubt it's the NRCC or even his race for reelection. I think Reynolds is, to put it mildly, distracted right now.
How about Denny Hastert and John Boehner? I don't see them going on shows or making any public appearances for a while. They'll get asked awkward and possibly unanswerable questions about Foleygate. I'd say they're out of commission for fundraisers too.
And pretty much any campaign joust or jab at the Democrats from one of these guys, on whatever issue, will be instantly transformed into some sex-with-pages snark. "How can we trust them to protect America when they can't even protect the summer interns on Capitol Hill."
Just to give some sense of how these interviews are going. Yesterday, when Tom Reynolds was asked by the local paper how Rep. Rodney Alexander had characterized Foley's emails when he told him about them, he said "I'm not going to get into all that . . . I'm not into a grand jury witness thing here, or whatever." Well, don't be sure, Tom. The night is still young.
The one thing a pol can't brook is being the object of ridicule and derision. And at the moment that's about the best these characters can hope for.
Add to this the fact that in the final weeks before an election it's critical for each side's leaders to work together seamlessly. And what do you think the Haster-Reynolds relationship is like at the moment? Or how about Boehner and Hastert? They still trust each other?
And what happens when Joe Sestak asks Curt Weldon whether he's lost confidence in Denny Hastert? How does that conversation go?
The simple fact is that to the extant campaigning determines the outcomes of elections, the race goes to the side that can remain on the offensive most consistently and define the national debate on its own terms. Foleygate has made it very hard for the leaders of the House GOP to go on the offensive on anything relevant to the election. For political purposes they're basically out of commission. And they've given Democratic challengers in every district around the country a slew of questions with which to pummel GOP incumbents or any Republican, for that matter, who puts his head up on television. This is in the context of an election that was already going very badly for House Republicans. Foleygate has now made them all but politically defenseless in the final stretch of the campaign. And that is a very big deal."