UPDATE: A reader emails: "Do you really think no one in the Republican leadership has bothered to go back and look at the file to see how old the page actually was?"
A competent Republican leadership certainly would have, but that's pretty much already been ruled out, right?
I'm all in favor of getting rid of Hastert -- but I've been in favor of that for a long time, and his William Jefferson response seemed to demonstrate his utter ineptitude -- or worse -- sufficiently for my purposes. And as I noted yesterday, the Republican House leadership has squandered its political and moral capital across the board and over an extended period of time.
On the other hand, if ABC ran with a story that was wrong in its essential detail, turning consensual behavior among adults into underage sex, well, that's kind of a major blunder, too, at the very least.
MORE: Bob Owens says that the IMs started when the page was 17. It's just the publicized chat, apparently, that took place at age 18.
Meanwhile, reader Christopher Grayce thinks I'm wrong to talk about "underage sex," as there was no actual sex:
I don't recall anything in the Foley story about sex. Just some naughty text messages. I mean, that's in bad taste, but maybe this shouldn't be quite the witch hunt it is. I'm also a little nonplussed by your strong distinction between salacious messages to a 17-year-old on his own in D.C. with an 18-year-old. I believe both are legal (age of consent being lower than 18, I think). I'm sure you'll recall a young man can join the Marines and go to Iraq at 17.
I'm not defending being a paederast, but still, aspects of this process are beginning to look a little hysterical.
MORE: Strangely, the above produces this email from an (of course) anonymous lefty emailer:
You and your entire side of the political spectrum are now plainly exposed for what you are: power-hungry perverts, obsessed with anal rape. From Abu Graib to Giuliani Time, from Mark Foley to outlawing gay marriage, to authorizing Bush to "define" the Geneva Conventions, conservatives in America are obsessed with just one thing: penetrating the rectum of unwilling partners.
Maybe we should ask Mrs. Instapundit about these tendencies.
Republicans: The Anal Rape Party.
Fitting, don't you think?
Hmm. My first thought is that I didn't realize that Bill Lockyer was a Republican. My second thought is that you're a loony. That's pretty much my third and fourth thought, too. . . .
Anyway, I am on the record as being pro-sodomy, but not of the coerced kind, though as far as I know there's none of that to be found in FoleyGate. Seems to me that some Democrats are going a bit off the deep end here.