|Dennis Hastert at sentencing hearing in Chicago (Armando Sanchez/Tribune Photo)|
The Chicago Tribune's political columnist John Kass, who is probably privately worrying that his newspaper may be acquired by the evil face of Gannett, sat in that courtroom yesterday watching the "face of evil" as he faced his fate for structuring cash payments intended as hush money to one of his victims to avoid federal authorities and an unsuspecting public from learning about his dirty little secret. Kass focuses in a column today on what he describes as "equally bloodless and calculating" to Hastert's sins as a serial child molester--the "letters of mercy" sent to the judge by Hastert's allies. In particular, he focused on the letter Hastert had sought but failed to get.
Hastert called his political protege Tom Cross, the Oswego Republican and former state House minority leader, to ask that Cross write a letter of mercy to Judge Durkin.
It was one of the most galling things I've ever heard of in politics.
Because one of Hastert's victims was Cross' brother.
Scott Cross testified courageously in court and he became emotional.
"I looked up to Coach Hastert," Scott Cross said. "He was a key figure in my life. And Coach Hastert sexually abused me."
Scott Cross testified about how he revered Hastert, how Hastert offered to massage him so Cross could lose weight, how Hastert pulled his shorts down, began massaging his genitals until shame and shock forced Cross to jump up and get away.
It was difficult to watch him, a brave father who wants his children to understand their obligations as citizens. And it was difficult to look at Tom Cross and the family sitting there in the courtroom, watching.
Judge Durkin, a former federal prosecutor himself, made it clear in his own questioning that Hastert asked Tom Cross for a letter.
"It is my understanding that Mr. Hastert called Tom Cross," Judge Durkin said. "Is that correct?"
It was correct, prosecutors said.
Hastert said he didn't remember abusing Scott Cross. I don't believe him. But at that moment you knew he wasn't getting probation.
Durkin pressed him and Hastert said that he'd "respect" Scott Cross' recollection.
He'd respect it? Like he respected his brother Tom?
Like he respected the other high school wrestlers he would molest? Or the other boys he'd watch as they showered, as he sat in the lounge chair he put near the shower stalls in the locker room?
The abuse is monstrous, yes, but even monsters have blood. What Hastert did in asking Tom Cross for the letter is bloodless. Only a supreme narcissist could ask such a thing of a brother; only a congenital user and manipulator could ever conceive of asking.
Only the damned could ask for something like that. But Hastert asked it of Tom Cross.
If you've been following this story, you know that Judge Durkin sentenced Hastert to 15 months in federal prison. Hastert is ill now, but aren't politicians always ill and pitiful at sentencing?
There is no fixing a child abuser, and though we're told of five victims, I wonder how many more are out there . . .
As Durkin spoke, you could see Hastert's chin stretch and become longer, as if the jawbones themselves were unhinged, the weight of the meat pulling it all toward the floor.
The former speaker's hands were folded tightly in front of him, and that public face stretched and fell away, revealing what was underneath:
The predator, a thief of innocence, a breaker of trust and a devourer of children's lives, a user of friends, a Combine boss.As poignant as Kass' words are, they are too little too late for him and his brethren in the mainstream media who have ignored for decades the sinister pedophile ring that has existed at the highest levels of society and government in this country. Back in the 1980s, there was hope that the dark veil of this satanic underworld would be lifted as some brave reporters began exposing what was known as the Franklin Scandal originating out of Nebraska's Boys Town, which revealed a network of elites trafficking in children for the sexual pleasure of those at the pinnacle of power. Unfortunately, those pushing to bring the powerful elites to justice were soon marginalized and caricatured as tin-foil hat conspiracists, the same fate met by every brave American who attempts to expose the evil forces who've robbed us of our Republic.
The "thief of innocence" described by Kass is the only member of the evil political caste system we have in this country that ensures that only the most flawed and controllable of men and women can rise to positions of power in this country who will face any music for his crimes--fifteen months in prison, a mere slap on the hand for a man who rose to the third highest office in the nation and amassed a multi-million dollar fortune after his humble beginnings as a high school wrestling coach. As Hastert rode away with his two sons in a Cadillac Escalade from the federal courthouse, I can imagine his first words, "Well, that wasn't so bad." We'll have to take a solace in the fact that he's the highest ranking government official in our government history required to serve time in a prison for his crimes since the punishment clearly doesn't match the crime.