John Hawkins over at RightWingNews.com makes the argument that Hastert’s resignation would bring no good at all to the GOP, and could, in fact, be the trigger for a chain reaction of possible resignations. It’s a good post, but I would argue John is way off the mark in castigating his fellow Republican bloggers for calling for Hastert’s head.
I can make a very strong case for him not resigning, but I can make a stronger case that he should have.
Congress is elected by the people. They are supposed to represent all of our fundamental beliefs. In choosing their leadership, they should bring those beliefs to the vote, and select someone who has the pulse of the people. They should be able to see what Americans are thinking, and act accordingly. They should feel an obligation to embody everything for which America stands.
One of our core beliefs is individual responsibility. That belief was satisfied when Mark Foley resigned. He took responsibility for his actions (albeit only after having tried to dismiss them as a “smear tactic”).
Another belief we generally share is the concept that the guy at the top should be responsible for the actions of those he leads. When Jeff Skilling and Andy Fastow were convicted for the Enron shenanigans, we were not going to be happy until Ken Lay was led away in cuffs as well. If he was unwilling to fall on his sword and admit his responsibility for his company’s actions, we would do it for him.
Hastert, on that count, denied us our closure.
This is not about Boehner, Reynolds, Fordham, Shimkus or Foley. This is about those who bear ultimate responsibility – the guys at the top.
Bloggers are not saying as much. They’re saying he should resign because of the appearance of a cover-up. They’re saying he should resign because he should have seen the signs and heard the alarm bell. They’re saying the e-mail should have made them look harder, search more, and dig deeper.
All of that is a bunch of crap.
The reason he should have resigned is to give those of us watching a since that a) the guy that did this was held responsible, and b) the guy at the top who was either asleep at the switch, unwilling or unable to see the danger, or simply inclined to look the other way is wiling to recognize that we, as a people, demand accountability.
Did he do anything wrong? No. He has said as much, and he’s right. But as the leader of the House, in a scandal that has rocked the institution, he was the guy on duty. He needs to show us that he understands what we as Americans believe – what we expected him to do. He needed to fall on his sword for the sake of our faith in our institutions, and our belief in setting things right.