Family Values champion Dennis Hastert, 74, graduate of conservative Wheaton College, former Republican Speak of the House from 1999-2007, completes, as Dick Polman of Newsworks puts it, the “hypocrisy trifecta” of the three Republicans who “spearheaded the impeachment of Bill Clinton.”
First there was Speaker Newt Gingrich (extramarital affairs), followed by Speaker-designate Bob Livingston (extramarital affairs), and now Dennis Hastert, who, prosecutors say, sexually abused at least five boys when he was both a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Many were shocked. Some of us have come to expect these sorts of revelations about those stalwart champions of so-called Family Values.
As Polman reminds us, Hastert was the proud bearer of a perfect 100 score from the Christian Coalition. The Right to Life Committee and the Chamber of Commerce also gave him perfect scores of 100. He was, in a word, the model conservative. His credentials, we were told by the Associated Press’ Jennifer Loven back in 1998, “are as solid as they come.”
Yet now the Chicago Tribune is reporting that,
The 26-page filing also said Hastert had claimed he was the victim of extortion after authorities approached him in late 2014 about his withdrawals of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from several banks. But after asking Hastert to make two secretly recorded calls to the man he accused of extortion — identified only as Individual A — authorities ultimately concluded that Hastert had sexually abused him decades earlier.
Four of the victims were wrestlers for Hastert at Yorkville High School, prosecutors said, while the fifth was an equipment manager for the wrestling team.
It’s not a pretty picture of Republican Family Values, and Hastert is not the first hypocrite to be exposed from its ranks. He may be the most corrupt, as well as the longest serving speaker of the house, in modern history, however. He was just days away from his sentencing after pleading guilty last year over some money transactions involving the payment of hush money “to one of his accusers” – some $3.5 million.
At the time, nobody knew what the money was for, only, read the indictment, that it was to “compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct.”
There is a sort of aura of festering evil surrounding Hastert that permeates the Republican Party. We’ve seen how Family Values really mean very little, as little as the GOP’s Pro-Life stance.
Even Hastert’s apology last week, conveyed by his attorney, paints him as a victim rather than someone who did unspeakable things:
“Mr. Hastert is deeply sorry and apologizes for his misconduct that occurred decades ago and the resulting harm he caused to others. He will stand before the court having deteriorated both physically and emotionally, undoubtedly in part due to public shaming and humiliation of an unprecedented degree.”
The Republican Party has presented itself to the American people as the champion of morality against what they say is moral relativism. Yet nowhere is moral relativism more apparent than in the Republican Party itself, with its one set of rules for “white Christian Americans” and another for everybody else.
Hastert will be sentence on April 27. His sentencing should stand as a sentencing of the Republican Family Values agenda.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.