Bush: I'm disgusted with Foley, but I know Denny Hastert

The president says that "people in positions of responsibility" have the responsibility to protect children. Well, some of them, anyway.

Published October 3, 2006 7:36PM (EDT)

During a campaign swing through California today, George W. Bush stopped at George W. Bush Elementary School -- have we mentioned that we're now in favor of "school choice" programs? -- to signal that he doesn't intend to throw Dennis Hastert under any buses for failing to do anything about former Rep. Mark Foley.

The president said the Foley case serves as "a reminder of the need for people in positions of responsibility to uphold that responsibility when it comes to children." It sounded like a shot at the House leadership, but Bush pretty clearly had only Foley himself in mind. "I was dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley's unacceptable behavior," Bush said next. "I was disgusted by the revelations and disappointed that he would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office.

"Families have every right to expect that when they send their children to be a congressional page in Washington, ... those children will be safe. We have every right as citizens to expect people who hold high office [to] behave responsibly in that office. I fully support Speaker Hastert's call for an investigation by law enforcement into this matter. This investigation should be thorough and any violations of law should be prosecuted."

Recall that Hastert has called for an investigation only into who might have known about the explicit IM exchanges Foley had with pages -- which is to say, not into whether House leaders should have done more when confronted with the "distinct and different" e-mail exchange Foley had with a 16-year-old page.

At the end of his brief remarks, Bush gave Hastert his own long-distance stamp of approval. "Now, I know Denny Hastert, I meet with him a lot," he said. "He is a father, teacher, coach, who cares about the children of this country. I know that he wants all the facts to come out and he wants to ensure that these children up there on Capitol Hill are protected. I'm confident he will provide whatever leadership he can to law enforcement in this investigation."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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