I’m a former House Republican staffer who now follows Washington for a small investment banking firm. I don’t why if there’s anything surprising by what I’m writing but please don’t cite my name as the firm might not be thrilled.
All of this decapitation talk is only about timing. Hastert is finished. The only question is whether it is now or later. Regardless of the election outcome, Hastert won’t be Speaker next year. If the Democrats take the House, then, obviously, Pelosi will be Speaker. If the Republicans somehow hang on, there are enough House Republicans who will withhold their support so he won’t have enough votes to remain as Speaker and he won’t have his patron, Tom DeLay, around to twist arms for votes to keep him in the Speaker’s chair.
The relevant question is whether it is in the Republicans’ political interest for him to step down now or later. I don’t know if there is time to do so, but I think it would help the base if he announced that he was stepping aside and said that the House needs new Republican leadership. It might be a little messy but they should consult with Newt and Rove about how to project a message of a new start returning to conservative ideals (avoid the word “values”). They can still run on a positive agenda that might save the House. The current path will lead to Speaker Pelosi.