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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Jeb Bush was in Pittsburgh last evening for a Rick Santorum fundraiser. Unfortunately for Jeb, on his way to the venue he ran into a bunch of protestors assembling for the event.

Things got ugly from there. Here's how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes it:

Mr. Bush had been walking in the area near the T-station and the incident happened spontaneously when about 50 pickets "tailed him and stayed with him and went into the Wood Street station."

. . .

Mr. Grove said a Port Authority canine unit was called in to help with crowd control. Two officers used their tasers to stun two protesters who "were asked to leave, but did not go," Mr. Grove said.

The tasers he said were empty of the cartridges that supply a more powerful charge.

"It was a very tense situation. They were very close to the governor and shouting on top of him."

As a precaution, the governor was ushered into a T-station supply closet and stayed there until the crowd left.


When I said Republicans were on the run, this isn't quite what I had in mind.

The CNN view of the world:

Foley resigned last week after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning watchdog group, posted some of the e-mails he exchanged with the former male page in 2005, who was then 16 and had worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican.


Fox may be a joke journalistically, but at least it is ideologically consistent. CNN is just a joke.

Late update: CNN has changed the offending paragraph to read as follows:

Foley resigned last week after ABC news showed him it had some of the e-mails he exchanged with the former male page in 2005, who was then 16 and had worked for Rep. Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican.

I love the sound of Republicans whining. It's a pleasant change.

Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory too many times for me to get my hopes up much. In my own defense, I came by my perpetual pessimism about the Democrats honestly. McGovern supporters caucused in my family's living room when I was but a toddler. We lived in the Deep South; our coat closet would probably have been big enough to accommodate the "crowd." I have no memory of that event, but if that doesn't imprint you with a certain political fatalism, I don't know what would.

The week before the Foley scandal broke, I first realized that Republicans were whining, not about some supposed cultural catastrophe to rile up the base, but about Democratic political attacks. It was the first time I allowed myself to believe that the Dems could actually win this year. Republicans were on the run.

Then the Foley scandal exploded.

The lingering image of the Foley scandal for me won't be Foley cruising to Morton's in his BMW convertible with a young male page or diddling himself during a floor vote (wouldn't want that image to linger).

It will be Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the NRCC, hiding behind children at a press conference in his district to avoid having to answer the hard questions about Foley. A reporter, concerned that the subject matter wasn't appropriate for kids, asked Reynolds if the children would leave the room. Reynolds--a small, scared man--refused.

Pundits fret that the Dems might "overplay their hand" and push too hard on Foley. Does anyone ever worry about the GOP overplaying its hand? Republicans, as the Foley case shows, will risk the entire pot on a bluff. They can be wrong on principle, wrong on the substance, and wrong on the politics, yet no one ever wrings their hands about the Republicans overplaying theirs. That's not to say the Dems have been as aggressive as they should be. NPR had a report yesterday on New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid's effort to unseat Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM). The Madrid campaign hastened to explain that the ad it began running this week touting Madrid's record of fighting internet sex crimes was produced back in the summer and didn't have anything to do with the Foley scandal. Well, why the hell not?

Dems seem to be getting their sea legs though. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi refused to throw Speaker Hastert a life preserver when he wanted to appoint Louis Freeh to investigate the Foley matter. What a refreshing surprise.

So let Republicans complain all they want about the timing of the Foley disclosures, the Clintons' supposed involvement, the mysterious hidden forces trying to do the GOP in.

I love the sound of Republicans whining. It is the sound of Democratic victory.

Did I say earthquake?

Here's another sign of the tectonic shift.

The NRCC dropped $7.8 million yesterday into 30 House districts.

But here's the thing. It's not just the size of the expenditure. Of the 30 districts in question, 27 are currently held by the GOP.

They're playing defense. But as the GOP playbook says, the best defense is a strong offense, so 98% of the $7.8 million is going to attacking the Democratic opponents.

The NRCC wants Rep. Mark Foley's $2.7 million campaign chest for use in other congressional races.

Hate the sin but love the sinner's money?

I took Hastert's call for an investigation of anyone who may have been aware of the Foley matter, specifically the part about "anyone outside the Congress," as a reference to former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl.

Once again, I've been busted for not being cynical enough. From TPM Reader B:

Seems reasonably clear to me. The reptiles want the FBI to investigate ABC’s sources and see if they can find any Democratic Party and/or liberal interest group involvement in the IM leaks. A probe would also help intimidate any other potential whistleblowers who might be out there . . . (“If you know what’s good for you kid, you’ll keep your old emails to yourself.”)

It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with going after Trandahl, who after all is one of the House officials the Republicans claim never saw the sexually explicit messages. If the FBI were to find out that he DID see them, it would bring the nasty stuff closer to Hastert and Co.


I'm afraid this is probably right. Also a good excuse to start issuing subpoenas to reporters again.

TPM Reader AL makes a good point about Hastert's letter to the Attorney General:

Hastert still maintains the focus on just one of Foley's emails:

“As I am sure you are aware, there are two different and distinct communications at issue here. First, Mr. Foley sent an email to a former page of Representative Alexander in the fall of 2005. This email was determined to be "over friendly" by Representative Alexander's office but was not sexual in nature."

. . .

Hastert separates what he still maintains is one "overfriendly" email and the "investigation" of it from the existence of the explicit IMs. On the face of it, that is defensible. There has not yet been any evidence that he or anyone in Congress knew of those IMs. We'll see how far that lasts.

But his request for an investigation is directed SOLELY at those "sexually explicit communications," and who knew of them, when, and what they did.

“Therefore, I also request that the Department undertake an investigation into who had specific knowledge of the content of any sexually explicit communications between Mr. Foley and any former or current House pages and what actions such individuals took, if any, to provide them to law enforcement. I request that the scope of your investigation include any and all individuals who may have been aware of this matter-be they Members of Congress, employees of the House of Representatives, or anyone outside the Congress."

That has NOTHING TO DO with how the Leadership dealt with the emails from Foley to the Page from Louisiana.


Just more of the same obfuscation and deception. For them, this is not about the pages. It's about winning. They will do anything to win.

Speaker Hastert's letter to the Attorney General, via Roll Call:

“Former Representative Mark Foley resigned from the House of Representatives on Friday, September 29, 2006, after improper and illicit communications between Mr. Foley and former House pages were made public. While the House of Representatives on that day voted to refer this matter to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for investigation, they do not have jurisdiction over federal law or over him upon his resignation from office.

“As Speaker of the House, I hereby request that the Department of Justice conduct an investigation of Mr. Foley's conduct with current and former House pages to determine to what extent any of his actions violated federal law.

“As I am sure you are aware, there are two different and distinct communications at issue here. First, Mr. Foley sent an email to a former page of Representative Alexander in the fall of 2005. This email was determined to be "over friendly" by Representative Alexander's office but was not sexual in nature. Second, based on media reports, there is a different set of communications which were sexually explicit instant messages which Mr. Foley reportedly sent another former page or pages. These communications, of which no one in the House Leadership was aware to my knowledge, reportedly were sent sometime in 2003.

“According to an Editor's Note that appeared on the St. Petersburg Times' website yesterday, the Times was given a set of emails from Mr. Foley to Representative Alexander's former page in November of 2005. (See "A Note From the Editors" located at http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz /, visited on September 30, 2006). The editors state that they viewed this exchange as "friendly chit chat" and decided not to publish it after hearing an explanation from Representative Foley. Acting on this same communication, the Chairman of the House Page Board and the then Clerk of the House confronted Mr. Foley, demanded he cease all contact with the former page as his parents had requested, and believed they had privately resolved the situation as the parents had requested.

“Unlike the first communication, the second communication was a set of instant messages that contained sexually explicit statements and were reportedly generated three years ago. Last week, ABC News first reported these sexually explicit instant messages which led to Representative Foley's resignation. These sexually explicit communications warrant a criminal referral in two respects. Initially, since the communications involve interstate communications, there should be a complete investigation and prosecution of any federal laws that have been violated. In addition, since the communications appear to have existed for three years, there should be an investigation into the extent there are persons who knew or had possession of these messages but did not report them to the appropriate authorities. It is important to know who may have had the communications and why they were not given to prosecutors before now.

“Therefore, I also request that the Department undertake an investigation into who had specific knowledge of the content of any sexually explicit communications between Mr. Foley and any former or current House pages and what actions such individuals took, if any, to provide them to law enforcement. I request that the scope of your investigation include any and all individuals who may have been aware of this matter-be they Members of Congress, employees of the House of Representatives, or anyone outside the Congress.

“Your attention to this serious matter is appreciated. I am also sending to the Department of Law Enforcement for the State of Florida a request to investigate whether or not any state laws were violated by Mr. Foley or anyone else with respect to this matter.”

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