This all could have blown over in 2005 and gotten rolled into a news dump on Katrina. Rep. Foley could have been pushed to not run for reelection, and the GOP could have kept his money (all $2.7M of it) and had time to find a decent replacement. The might have lost the seat, anyway, but at least they would have a fighting chance.
But once the news came out, the last thing the GOP leadership should have done was each talk about it separately and point the blame. With each telling differing stories and blaming each other, voters begin to think, "well one of them is lying, let's throw them all out." Next time, hold a closed door caucus meeting and vote the dude out of caucus and then have him resign immediately afterwards.
Next, take some blame. Say "hindsight is 20/20, but we should have heeded the warnings signs." Fire the staffer who tried to shove it under the rug that day too. Offer to have a full investigation after the election by the ethics committee.
Offer bills to reform the page program so that members cannot get too close, since appearantly pages in the well of the House are like Cookies in a jar.
In fact, the handling looks so bad that I am beginning to think this a coup to chop off the head of the GOP House leadership. Rep. Blunt lost the Maj. Leader race, and with Boehner, Hastart, and Reynolds all implicated in this scandal, he could become speaker/min. leader. Blunt could blame the loss of control on those guys, and cruise up the leadership ladder. And if the Dems win is very narrow, and 2008 is a big GOP year, his 4 year plan for the Speakership is done.
Or this could be a plan to purify the GOP by arch conservatives, social and economic. There is a list of Gay GOP staffers going around, ripe for posting on the internet and blacklisting. Some religious conservatives are blaming Foley's behavior oh his homosexuality. You don't see Barney Frank propositioning pages though. The current GOP in the House spend like drunken sailors with wads of cash, lust for power like they lust for pages and mistresses. The fist rots at the head as they say, and boy does that fish stink.