As Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Dennis Hastert was two heart beats away from serving as President of the United States. That is, if both the President and Vice President had died while in office, Hastert would have stepped into the Oval Office and assumed the leadership of this country.
The fact is that Hastert was a member of the U.S House of Representatives for 20 years, representing a Congressional district in Illinois from 1987 to 2007. The fact is that Hastert became the Speaker of the House in 1999 and is the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House.
The fact is that prior to his political career, Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach for 16 years. It was during that time that, according to recent reports, Hastert inappropriately touched a high school student. The reports came to light when it was discovered that Hastert evaded bank reporting requirements by withdrawing about $1 million in small amounts in order to pay that student to remain silent.
If the reports are true, Hastert has violated at least one sex offender law and could be required to register as a sex offender. If the reports are true, a sex offender was only two heart beats away from becoming President of the United States.
To many, Hastert had a distinguished political career and made many positive contributions to the nation before, during and after he served as a member of Congress. To many, Hastert is a Christian who has led a law-abiding life and never served a day in jail. To many, he is also a husband, a father and a grand father.
What is the difference then between Hastert and more than 750,000 individuals labeled as sex offenders in this country?
The answer is opportunity. Hastert was given an opportunity to make positive contributions to the nation. He was unburdened by a conviction for a sex offense. He was unburdened by the label “sex offender”.
Imagine then the contributions that could be made if those labeled as “sex offenders” had the same opportunity as Hastert. The United States would undoubtedly be a better place.
— by Janice Bellucci
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