Perverts, presidents and other politicians
by John Myers
At the beginning of last week, former Speaker Dennis Hastert was riding high as a multimillion-dollar lobbyist. Then on Thursday, he was indicted on federal charges for allegedly structuring the withdrawal of more than $950,000 in cash in order to avoid reporting requirements and then lying to the FBI about it. Hastert, who was once second in line to the presidency, must have been thinking about these lyrics to a Frank Sinatra song: “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.”
Hastert was speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007 and has been at work as a lobbyist since 2008.
Hastert allegedly took out the cash and handed it over to a Yorkville, Illinois, resident, “in order to compensate and conceal his prior misconduct” against that person, according to the indictment.
Hastert has been charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade currency transaction reports and making a false statement to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It is alleged Hastert withdrew $1.7 million from 2010 to 2014 and gave it to the unidentified person, referred to in the indictment as “individual A.”
The allegations are that Hastert had sexual misconduct with a student on the wrestling team. That’s not so shocking really when you consider the reckless and hedonistic pursuits by the ruling elite that thrive when empires die.
A sample of what the ruling elite have been up to
1.In 1998, President Bill Clinton lied to his wife, his closest advisers and the entire country when he said he “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss (Monica) Lewinsky.” He also lied under oath over that affair and was criminally charged with perjury. The U.S. Senate saved him from impeachment, and he is back in the good graces of millions of Americans.
2.In 2008, Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards lied about having an affair with campaign staffer Rielle Hunter. The affair resulted in the birth of a baby girl who Edwards didn’t recognize as his own for two years.
3.In 2011, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) sent explicit messages via his Twitter account to a young female. Upon exposure, both online and in public, Weiner denied it. But in time, he was forced to admit his indiscretions and to resign from Congress. Weiner, aka Carlos Danger on Twitter, tried a political comeback. He claimed that he was a changed man, but it was revealed that he was sexting young women all the while.
This is just the tip of the political rot. In 2008, Democrat Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor of New York amid a prostitution scandal. In 2001, Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) was investigated in the death of Chandra Levy. He ultimately admitted to having an affair with the young woman. In 2007, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was caught playing footsie by tapping his foot in a men’s restroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. After being arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct, Craig pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Craig has to get the worst excuse award. His explanation was that he has a wide stance and was trying to pick up a piece of paper inside the bathroom stall.
I am shocked that the Hastert story has not been bigger news. The country is so inundated with sex as a part of modern politics that nobody cares.
Maybe it began with President John Kennedy or President Franklin Roosevelt, but an all-time contender for avarice and plain indecency in government is a former senator who had a chance at the presidency in 1988: Gary Hart. Hart declared his candidacy in April 1987. When asked about rumors of his womanizing by The Washington Post, Hart said the rumors were spread by other campaigns and that they were “not going to win that way.”
As I understood it at the time, an angry Hart told reporters that if they thought he was cheating on his wife with a pretty young girlfriend, then all they had to do was follow him around. They were smarter than that. They went to visit Hart’s longtime mistress. Yes, Hart had a newer model: Donna Rice.
Except for Hastert, all of the above allegations I mentioned involved consenting adults. Yet CBS reported that Hastert was telling his friends that he is a victim, too. I understand extortion from the other party. But if it is proven that Hastert paid out nearly $1 million to a now-grown man, then Hastert is really just a victim of his own actions.
Then again, who cares? He is hardly worth comparing to Donald Sterling, the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was surreptitiously recorded in his own bedroom by his gal pal, V. Stiviano.
Sterling told Stiviano: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” He also reportedly told her: “You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in; you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”
There was no “N” word in any of it. Sterling said he didn’t want her to be escorted by black men to his games. And because of that, he quickly became public enemy No. 1 and was forced to sell his basketball franchise.
Then there is Clinton, who remains venerated, despite the affairs, the lies and beating his perjury charge. Never mind that inconvenient truth about Clinton’s lies. In less than two years, he may be co-president with wife Hillary. Not only is all forgiven, but for millions of Democrats all is literally forgotten.
All empires suffer an eventual downfall. They are typically the result of imperial overstretch, incapacitating debts and high-ranking officials who put their priorities — power, sex and money — ahead of what’s best for the nation. It’s nothing new, and a great read is Matt Taibbi’s book “Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.”
The Washington Post reported Taibbi’s book “shines an unflinching spotlight on the corruption, dishonesty, and sheer laziness of our leaders.
The American Empire is in decline. The immoral behavior of our elected leaders is just a further symptom in America’s demise.
Orson F. Whitney may have said it best: “What has history said of eminence without honor, wealth without wisdom, power and possessions without principle? The answer is reiterated in the overthrow of the mightiest empires of ancient times. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome! The four successive, universal powers of the past. What and where are they?”
Yours in good times and bad,