The very weird case of J. Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker indicted for perjury and illegal bank withdrawals for payments he apparently made to someone who was purportedly blackmailing him for alleged sexual abuse when he was a high school wrestling coach. My thesaurus is exhausted. And so we have the all-too-depressingly-familiar accusations of sexual misconduct by a man who (a) was in a position of power and trust over vulnerable young men and (b) had spent his career in the helping professions.
We also have another story of a less personal – and more common – kind of abuse. When Hastert left Congress he became a lobbyist, and however you dress up the role of a lobbyist, it is essentially to sell access – something that former House speakers have lots of. After a sluggish start, Hastert’s business began picking up around the time he needed money to make large payments to the still-unidentified blackmailer. (I wonder what would have happened if these demands had arisen while Hastert was still in Congress, with access not just to people but to classified information.)
There is much more to be learned about the personal case of Dennis Hastert, whose sudden fall from grace caught his many admirers by surprise. But how many more stories do we need to read about the cozy connections between those who purport to serve the public good and those who only want to line their own pockets before we get serious about political and financial reform?