GOP House must look at its past to guide its future

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Some Republicans are upset about the failure of leadership in the House under J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois. To make a comparison, they only need to look at past GOP House leaders, who were decent individuals and honest brokers.

Take Jerry Ford, later to become president after Richard Nixon resigned. During many years of Democratic and sometimes arrogant rule by majority Democrats, Ford kept his cool. He was a man of his word with members of both parties.

At the urging of the Nixon White House, Ford once tried to lead an impeachment drive without proper grounds against Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Ford later acknowledged it was a huge mistake. Ford took his job seriously.

Another Illinois congressman, Bob Michel, was also distinguished. Archconservatives were at times upset with him for not being more partisan, but Michel held his ground and thus kept his head high.

Rep. John Rhodes of Arizona was another GOP minority leader who merited respect on both sides of the aisle. Rhodes was a conservative who put aside partisanship if there was a crisis at hand. He was trustworthy.

Still another leader from Illinois was the irascible Rep. Les Arends. He could be mean as a junkyard dog at times, but he left Congress with his reputation intact.

So that leaves us with Hastert. It is almost pitiful to see him, head down, at a press conference on the Foley scandal and then walking away without taking questions. Talk about no courage.

Hastert owes his job to the departed Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, whose majority leadership in the House has led his party to a pending disaster in November. Hastert must feel let down when even a conservative paper like the Washington Times calls for his resignation.

The Republicans have made their own mess. No matter how hard they may try, this is their failing. And if they try to duck out of it with partisan jabs at the opposition, they deserve minority status next January.