'Washington Times' Calls for Hastert to Resign The editorial page of The Washington Times, a small but influential newspaper among conservatives, on Tuesday called for the resignation of Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert over his failure to report inappropriate communications between an underage House page and former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL).

'Washington Times' Calls for Hastert to Resign

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. Madeleine Brand is away. I'm Alex Chadwick.

Coming up, in Iraq, U.S. troop deaths are on the rise. Why?

First, political survival and former Congressman Mark Foley. Investigations continue into whether he sought sexual contact with Capitol Hill pages. His lawyer says no.

Still, some prominent conservatives are now calling for the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, to resign. Among them Tony Blankley, editorial page editor for the Washington Times. We spoke earlier.

Mr. TONY BLANKLEY (Editorial Page Editor, Washington Times): The Speaker of the House sits in loco parentis for the pages. Parents around the country send their children to Congress for a wonderful experience.

And it is a wonderful experience, and with these few exceptions they are undamaged at all. They're wonderful opportunities for young people to work in Congress and learn about how government works. I don't want to see the program cancelled, as some people are saying.

But nonetheless, it's the Speaker's responsibility to take care of them as he would his own children. And he's done his job wonderfully in Congress for decades. But he lapsed. And I don't think he can oversee the investigation. I don't think Republicans should continue to consider him their Speaker. They should ask for a new one, even though it's only 35 days before the election.

And I understand the politics of it all. And I understand and I suspect the Democrats probably leaked the stuff out just at the right time. I mean, it came out the last day of the legislative session of the year before the election.

I've been a political operative in this town too long to think that that was happenstance. But notwithstanding whatever the Democrats did or didn't do, this is a clear case and I think the Republicans should act clearly.

CHADWICK: ABC News has said that they've learned about the instant messages that Mr. Foley sent, not from Democrats, clearly, but from pages. They say these came from pages, not at all from Democrats.

Mr. BLANKLEY: Well, look. If you know anything about the business, people use cut-outs. They put pass information through. They keep their fingerprints off messages. All I'm saying is even if the Democrats put it out - and by the way, I mean, I think we will probably find out that a fair number of people on the Hill at some lower levels, at staff levels, at page levels, identified with both parties, probably will have heard some stuff going on. This kind of stuff doesn't pass around through the Hill silently at that staff level.

So - but whatever the facts are, I'm not excusing the Republicans. I'm simply saying I understand the Republicans are frustrated. They think the Democrats were up to no good.

But even if they were, that is no excuse for inaction on the part of Republicans.

CHADWICK: I wonder if the Republicans don't bear some extra culpability because they did act to keep knowledge of this within Republican circles. That is...

Mr. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

CHADWICK: ...when the page committee sort of heard about this they deliberately excluded the Democratic member of that oversight committee from participating in these talks.

Mr. BLANKLEY: Yeah, absolutely. We said that in our Washington Times editorial yesterday. We - I think - I don't have it in front of me - said, moreover, they kept it - to the best of our knowledge they never passed it on to the Democrats.

Now, had they taken complete action and protected the kids, and then you could make the case that why give the other party a political cheap shot. But since they didn't even protect the pages, yes, obviously the fact that they didn't share the information with the Democrat who co-chaired the committee that overseas that pages is a point against them.

CHADWICK: Two days ago, Tony Blankley, the ABC News political online newsletter, The Note, said we'll know within 48 hours if this scandal is going to cost Republicans the House. Well, that deadline has passed. What do you think?

Mr. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think 48 hours is enough. I want to see what the polls look like for marginal campaigns week, week and a half, two weeks out. It takes a while for information to fully settle, to get disseminated. Obviously this information is all over the news, so people are hearing about it, to think about it.

Even the first poll, when the story's breaking, is often unreliable. You want to wait a few days after the new information has been received by the public. So I would think some time, sort of end of next week, beginning of the week after - I mean, you start checking to see what the actual honest campaign polls are saying. We'll then have a better picture.

Certainly we can guess. And the guess is that it's going to hurt the Republicans. But I don't think we can know with any kind of professional confidence what the effect is until we've seen polls taken, I'd say a good week after the public has absorbed the information.

CHADWICK: Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, speaking with us from Washington. Tony, thank you.

Mr. BLANKLEY: Thank you.

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