The Blog

Personal Responsibility

At his press conference, Hastert said, "The buck stops here." He accepted responsibility-- wow-- but then made it clear that he accepted none of the blame.
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It has been a mantra of many conservatives for a long time-- the importance of personal responsibility. Ad it has been a healthy mantra. The idea of people explaining away their bad behavior by blaming others or external forces-- I ate too many Twinkies, I was beaten by my father, I was molested by my brother, I was in the thrall of an addiction, I had PTSD-- denies the reality that people still choose what they do, and should be held accountable. SO, in that context, let us consider Mark Foley and Dennis Hastert. The first thing Foley says/does after the scandal is made public is to enter rehab and say he is an alcoholic (I wonder if he met Mel Gibson there.) The second thing his spokesman says is that he was abused by a priest as a child. I am waiting for him to say he discovered over the weekend that his grandmother was Jewish. Now comes Speaker Hastert. At his press conference, Hastert said, "The buck stops here." He accepted responsibility-- wow-- but then made it clear that he accepted none of the blame. What does it mean to accept responsibility if you don't take any of the blame? It means you are copping out, taking no personal responsibility. Now the Washington Post has reports from a second staffer saying that Scott Palmer, the Speaker's longtime top aide, was told about Foley's serious problems with pages years ago, talked to Foley about them, and then did nothing more. So when do you think he will admit he is an alcoholic-- before or after Hastert accepts responsibility, but no blame, for Palmer?