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Denny, We Hardly Knew You

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hypocriteOkay, this isn’t an infidelity story, but a freakish double life story. Is anyone following the spectacular fall from grace of former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert? Who is being brought up on charges that he was funneling $3.5 million in hush money to a former student of his in Illinois who he allegedly sexually molested when he was a high school wrestling coach.

Shocker, that the guy had an abysmal voting record on gay rights. Once again, the Mr. Family Values was anything but. And perhaps this is an infidelity story as well as a sexual abuse story, because rumors around D.C. were that he’s been living with and having an affair with his male chief of staff for years.

How sick is this evil fuck? He went around crusading against the sexual abuse of children. Oh, and how did he get millions to pay off his victim? As a lobbyist promoting candy-flavored tobacco for e-cigarettes, reducing government regulation of coal mining, and any other agenda that would line his pockets.

This was the guy who supposedly “had no skeletons” as the New Yorker reports:

One can put that in the category of proffered hypocrisies. When the news of the indictment broke, many accounts stuck to the theme that every last person who knew Hastert was shocked—during his fast rise in Congress, he was supposedly known, as the Washington Post put it, for having “no skeletons” in the closet. That this might have been the case, even though Hastert was known to have made millions of dollars on a deal involving land bought cheaply and sold, at a striking profit, after he had pushed plans through Congress for a nearby highway, says something about what counts as a skeleton in Washington.

Hastert became Speaker because Newt Gingrich had just crashed and burned, and because the next in line, Bob Livingston, worried that, in the wake of Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky-related impeachment, his own extramarital affairs would come out. Hastert lost the job when he mishandled the scandal that erupted when Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, was discovered to have sent sexual messages to teen-age male congressional pages. Hastert’s clumsiness on that count, and his failure to protect the pages, seems easier to explain now. And his many protestations that he might not be worthy of the Speaker’s job—he told reporters that he took it only after praying on it—look less like humility, if they ever did. After leaving Congress, Hastert made a great deal more money as a lobbyist, a business in which one of his two sons was already engaged while Hastert had been Speaker. (Hastert has been married since 1973.)

My take away in all of this is just the same motif I see in cheating scandals — entitlement. I’m entitled to abuse you. I’m entitled to the public’s trust. I’m entitled to make money off that trust. I’m an exception. If I’m a homosexual, then I’m Very Different than the homosexuals I work hard to disenfranchise.

Maybe Dennis Hastert is the reincarnation of Roy Cohn. Maybe Tony Kushner will write another play like Angels in America.

Roy Cohn: [Ethel Rosenberg] came this close to getting life. I pleaded till I wept to put her in the chair. Me, I did that. I’d have fucking pulled the switch if they let me. Why? Because I fucking hate traitors. Because I fucking hate communists. Was it legal? Fuck legal! Am I a nice man? Fuck nice! They say terrible things about me in The Nation? Fuck The Nation! You want to be nice or you want to be effective?! You want to make the law, or be subject to it? Choose!

If you’re going to be a hypocrite, be a powerful one.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Having lived and worked in around the DC area for a number of years, I can assure you that a great many number of our leaders have not attained power and position without stepping over a few bodies! I would hate to open the door on closet that holds those skeletons! I would be crushed!

  • Saw the scandal breaking in the news…didn’t realize all the sickening details of that train wreck. Pretty spectacular hypocrisy, indeed! Sadly, I don’t think any side of the aisle has a corner on hypocrisy. Just wish there was less. Whatever happened to saying what you mean and keeping your word?! I suppose that is just a silly chumpy idea of mine 😉

  • Just a case of the staggering hypocrisy of yet another public figure. They are so entrenched in their entitled world they feel they can insulate themselves from the big reveal…like so many of our cheaters.

  • It is scary to think there probably isn’t anyone in politics that hasn’t used their position to line their pockets and cover their scandals. I used to hope/believe they were a cut above your normal person (MANY YEARS AGO, MIND YOU) but now I realize they probably would not be interested in such a post if they weren’t narcissistic at the very least. You would have to think it was worth it to lose your privacy. You would most likely have to enjoy the attention and all the “perks”. Or if you went into politics honest, it probably would not last long in the den of thieves up there.
    I always vote, but sometimes I wonder if one crook is any better than the rest. Or like this guy squeaky clean could turn into filthy scum once the closet door opens. You have got to wonder how these people come up with so much cash. Damn.
    This being honest is a real albatross. Have to admit sometimes I think that way. If you are not fucking people over, you are just getting fucked over. It gets old.
    Don’t bother to tell me how this should not change me, it won’t, but a girl can dream

  • Can we say Psychopath? They are only guilty if they can’t lie their way out of it and it is only wrong if they get caught.

    • My ex husband was quite involved with politics and I was dragged along for the disinterested ride. Anyway, I never could stand the sight of Hastert during his heyday. Visceral dislike, made my skin crawl. It only increased when I learned from a news report at that time that he’d been a wrestling coach. I remember turning to my husband and remarking “he looks like the type that would molest boys in singlets.”

      Yup……Years later I was right.

      $3.5 million is a shitload of hush money.

  • To refer to a well worn quote, what a tangled web we weave . . .when we practice to deceive. Politics will break your heart. Instead of voting for someone you believe will actually have values and work toward a better tomorrow, you end up choosing what you hope will be the lesser of two evils. Our choices make chaos theory easier to understand. Stories like this are all too common, and I think they are the basis of the cynicism and disillusion of our time. I wish I had an answer, but if power always corrupts, then what choices do we actually have?

    I suppose we could always vote against the exposed evil, then maybe the vultures could focus on destroying each other. Maybe they already are, and each one of them is so egotistical that he/she believes he/she will be the last one standing?

  • I used to work at a high level in State government. I came away believing that politics is about sex, power and money, in any order and any combination. We the people and our needs are just a means to those ends.

  • I tend to assume that anyone who has made it to a very high level in politics is narcissistic personality disordered. Doesn’t matter what political party they belong to. It takes a supreme level of self promotion, ruthlessness, entitlement, hunger for power and attention, deviousness and plain old backstabbing to make it to the top of that steaming heap. Those who are not disordered rarely have the qualities necessary for “success” in the political world. And it’s the same in the entertainment industry and at the very top of the corporate world. I would never date a man who was very successful in one of those fields, because I know more than likely, I’d end up burned by another disordered narc.

  • One thing that always pisses me off is when a scandal comes out and people say “Oh, that doesn’t matter. It’s his/her personal life. It doesn’t have anything to do with their job.”

    Well, excuse me, and I’ve heard this before, if they will fuck over their own families why will they be different with people they don’t even know?? Uh, they won’t.

    Politicians, helping professions, and things like that are supposed to have what you call a “fiduciary” relationship with the people they serve. (That’s not a word you get to use often that I learned in paralegal school, lol.). Anyway, you are supposed to be able to trust them to act in your best interest. Not their own. Liars and cheaters are gonna lie and cheat. Period. To their wife, to their kids, to their friends, to their constituents. Personal ethics determine everything you do, and I’ve never seen anyone who acts differently ethics wise with different people who could be trusted by anyone.

  • The saving grace in our society and form of government is a non-partisan Fourth Estate. They are tasked with exposing the corruption so that we can understand, learn, and make an educated choice at election time. Much like ChumpLady shedding light on cheaters and infidelity. Very empowering.

    • Far too much of our “Fourth Estate” is not only partisan but wholly appropriate in basking in the light of the narcissists and corruption they are supposed to expose. One of the great risks to American democracy (what there is left of it after Citizens United) is this sycophantic press who uncritically repeat what they “learn” from their agenda-driven sources. For example, many national sportscasters simply refuse to criticize Tom Brady (one memorably stated on NFL radio “I love Tom Brady.” As the media world narrows and is more run by and dominated by corporate entertainment venues, the most visible faces for most people are often tied to the people they cover by marriage (MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, married to the former Fed chair), by family relations (Jenna Bush, the Hunstman daughter whose name escapes me, etc.). And true media whistleblowers have had their careers and lives destroyed. Too often, what we learn is about individual wrongdoing and not the systematic corruption that allows so many of these narcissists to prosper at our expense.

      I’m sorry to be such a downer about this, and I am grateful that we learn about some of these crooks and liars, even if it’s too late to keep them from gaming the system. And I agree that the internet, including sites like this one, and social media can change the game if we use them wisely.

      • Don’t forget Stephanopoulos/Clinton. The list goes on and on.

        It’s the powerful vs. all the rest of us.

      • I agree. Use of “non-partisan” Fourth Estate was more aspirational than reality… kind of like that unicorn reconciliation.

  • The kind of cheaters we write about here, who betray their partners, children, and marriage vows are just choosing a different mode and venue of cheating and getting over on others than people like Denny Hastert (politician, liar, hypocrite, user of inside information and lobbyist), Tom Brady (athlete, liar, hypocrite, media creation, seeker of unfair advantage over his peers), Lance Armstrong (athlete, massive liar, hypocrite, substance abuser, and founder of a charity based on his sports cheating and PR needs). Willing to bet that all of these guys were cheating in their relationships, as well. I won’t even get into that nest of snakes running pro soccer or the tools running Disney/ESPN who fired Bill Simmons for doing his job–criticizing the hypocrite who runs the NFL.

    The further I get from D-Day, the more I see that being betrayed has made me a lot smarter about recognizing that the more someone or something sparkles, the more corrupt it probably is. And the more noise it makes when the sparkly facade cracks and the narcissistic crazy shows through.

    • LAJ,

      Tom Brady was dating (engaged?) to a young lady who was pregnant with his baby when he hooked up with and, I believe, impregnated his current narcissistic wife. Lance Armstrong cheated on his wife (after she stuck by him and nursed him through his cancer) with, I believe, Sheryl Crowe, who he later abandoned when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

      I am always amazed by people who believe that lying and cheating is situational and is not indicative of a broader compromised or a complete lack of character. I sometimes believe that people are unwilling to make this connection because of some of the poor choices they may make in their own lives and they excuse these (and other) people’s choices because it makes it easier for them to dismiss their own which might be an indication that they are not who they profess to be.

      I always love your insightful posts, LAJ.

  • This will lead to big changes in the Republican House like renaming the “Hastert Rule” to the “Freedom Rule”.

  • “Denny” got all tangled up in the invasive, intrusive, onerous laws that, as it turns out, apply to everyone, even–rarely–the politically privileged, I suppose.
    I personally resent the fact that what I do with money that I earn honestly as a private citizen of this “free” country is restricted and scrutinized by know-nothing bureaucrats and their friends in the banking industry. We’re all guilty until proven innocent, thanks to the laws that caught the Honorable Hastert. (*gag!*)
    Turns out that this Republican–from a party that sells itself as the party of freedom and patriotism and family values (whatever that is)–does nothing as a politician to guard my natural-born rights, to fight for my and my friends’ and family members’ privacy and liberties. To the contrary–he toes the party line, taking bribes, writing or ignoring laws that punish gays and anyone else trying to make a living. He knows which side his bread is buttered on.
    Well, when there is any justice, then what goes around comes around. It’s just business. Serves him right.

    He’s the embodiment of why I left the Republican party. Fucking hypocrites.

    • It’s been like this for a long time. I once wanted to buy a car with cash to avoid paying 10 bucks for a chasier’s check (lol), but the dealer convinced me the amount of paperwork that he and I would have to file would wind up costing more 🙂

      Product of the war on drugs.

      • But on a footnote, how he got caught is kind of a side issue. I’m glad he was caught and exposed.

        What he did was terrible.

        • I had to give my SS# to the dealership to buy a used car, so they could report my purchase to some authoritarian body.

          Home of the free, my ass.

          • Also the war on drugs is stupid. It’s costly, deadly, and hasn’t gotten rid of drugs. It’s made dangerous people more dangerous, but forces innocent people to spend money complying with ridiculous laws.

            What galls me is that this asshole really believed he wouldn’t get caught being part of the corruption in D.C., and wouldn’t be caught being a pedophile. Maybe because he’s special. Or, just as bad, maybe because everyone in his world is untouchable.

            • When the FBI came knocking, he could have declined to talk with them, contacted an attorney and most likely avoided all of this. Hell, for that matter, when he knew his victim was claiming damages, he could have hired a lawyer to negotiate an entirely legal confidential settlement. It is done all the time in corporate America. But he thought he was smarter than everyone else with his, “I don’t trust the banking system.” He is getting exactly what he deserves! As for what is called the 8300 requirement for cash transactions, he should know all about it because it became law when he was in Congress…

  • I don’t think any of this is new. What has changed over the last couple of decades is that information is so much more readily available and easily shared. It’s just harder to keep that dirty laundry in the cupboard.

  • Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert—who was indicted for illegally hiding millions of dollars in bank withdrawals, allegedly to silence a former student whom he sexually abused—reportedly thinks of himself as a victim, too. CBS reports that although Hastert did not emerge in public on Friday, he told close friends that he was sorry and that “I am a victim, too.”

    Typical,

    • I’m not surprised he sees it that way, especially considering that it looks like he was blackmailed. Did you see this? http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/243418-dennis-hastert's-weird-2014-CSPAN-call

      There was an odd exchange between former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and an unidentified C-SPAN caller from his hometown in light of Thursday’s surprise indictment that he illegally transferred $3.5 million to a Yorkville resident to “conceal prior misconduct.”

      The call came in while Hastert appeared on CSPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Nov. 13, [2014] a week after last year’s midterm elections. The caller identified himself only as “Bruce” from Illinois.

      “Hello, Denny,” the caller said.

      “Do you remember me from Yorkville?” he added, before laughing and hanging up.
      CSPAN’s host Pedro Echevarria immediately moved onto the next caller and Hastert had no significant reaction to the call than other than indicating he knew “Bruce.”

    • Wow!

      Why am I shocked that he thinks of himself as a victim?

      That’s what all morally deficient people think when they get caught, isn’t it?

  • We need to get money out of politics, our country is being fucked over, our civil rights trampled. I hope all chumps will do their best to overturn citizens united and work toward restoring a congress that is truly by and for the people.

  • About that “crusading against the sexual abuse of children” part: Hastert probably saw it as some sort of consensual relationship. At least that’s how my ex put it when he brought it up earlier today at my kid’s event. Ex loves a political scandal and was gleeful about how Hastert was exposed as gay (from the standpoint of Hastert being exposed as a hypocrite).

    My response: “The story here is not so much about him being gay; he abused a child.”

    Ex: “Well, no–the kid was 16. It’s not like Hastert was fondling a little kid.”

    Me: “16 is below the age of consent. That’s abuse.”

    Ex: “Blah, blah, blah.” (Continuing to justify his opionion.)

    Me: (Silence, realizing it was a waste of breath from the beginning.)

    Unfortunately, a lot of people share this misguided opinion.

    • Its not unlike the female teacher sleeping with the underage male student. My cheater used to say that was no big deal and women should be treated differently. Its not about body parts. Its about abusing power, control, misusing authority, and violating trust. A child is a child. But then when a 40 year old is sleeping with a 20 year old i guess she has sympathy for all kinds of crap.

  • Kinda is an infidelity story CL, when I first heard about it, the first thing I suspected was he was a “boy lover”, and I checked to see if he’s married, which he is. Don’t know if he was during his er….”indescretions”, but yeah this is an applicable story. Especially the cover up…There seems to be quite a few responses mentioning gender reversal and the current number of female teachers being discovered having affairs with their male students, and while most males give the student an “atta-boy”, many of these female teachers are married with children, and I can only imagine how a husband would feel knowing his wife is sharing herself with a teenager….

  • good points. from what I’ve read, it’s really basic psychology. These people have to justify and rationalize what they do in order to prevent their conscience from causing them to feel guilt. It’s a natural defense mechanism that’s easier to use than admitting to yourself you’re a lying cheating a–hole.

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