It used to be said that the only way to lose your job in this gerrymandered Congress was to be caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. I think we've nearly reached that threshold. Before the news networks went all Mark Foley, all of the time, the most outrageous comment I heard came from the Republican leadership, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, that if they aggressively confronted Foley about their knowledge of his conduct with underage boys, they might be considered "gay bashing." What a breathlessly hypocritical remark. The party that every two years campaigns to write discrimination against homosexuals into the Constitution is suddenly sensitive about "gay bashing?"
The e-mails and IMs from Foley to the pages in question are salacious and specific, and if you enjoy fifty year old men asking teenage boys to measure their penises, there are nine pages of similar requests on ABC.com or at this address:
So, these are not merely "naughty e-mails," as Tony Snow so Victorianly put it, and the shameful cover-up involves the entire Republican Congressional leadership. Mark Foley was allowed to continue as head of the caucus to protect children from internet predators while the party leadership knew he was trolling for teens, to protect their political power.
If you are homosexual, and suddenly your political party launches a faith based, anti-gay jihad; then you become a closeted and repressed gay who ends up preying on boys over which you wielded power. Say what you will about Rep. Barney Frank, and Fox news certainly has, including the claim that he operated a brothel from his townhouse. But of all the smear and charges by his opponents, the only allegation that proved true was that Frank had temporarily chosen an unsavory companion, and who, regardless of sexuality, can deny experiencing that unfortunate reality? But Frank's open sexuality doesn't seem to interfere with his effectiveness as an advocate for his constituents. Only the party of "family values" would try to keep this scandal under wraps until after the election when they were warned about the problem well in advance. Barney Frank's questionable companion was at least a consenting adult. Rep. Foley's wanting "you to know that he is a gay man," is an insult to gay men. Does he believe his admission excuses his arrangements with teenage pages, or his incredible recklessness?
Foley also wants you to know, according to his attorney, that he "is in no way a pedophile." That depends on what "is" is. True, he never solicited a prepubescent on the internet, so the proper term may be "pederast." The word the people need to remember is "hypocrite." So before Mark Foley joins O.J. Simpson, Tanya Harding, Mel Gibson, and Laci Peterson in the 24 hour news cycle's DNA, it's well to remember that Iraq is a slaughterhouse and half the world is on fire. I realize that the paralyzed Republicans will do absolutely nothing about Iraq before the election, short of announcing the total withdrawal of our troops as a last attempt to preserve their power, and the only way we can even begin to put out some of these fires is to elect Democrats to Congress next month. So, if the sleazy story of Mark Foley's liberties with teenagers makes the "values voters" hesitate for just a minute before trusting the Republican Party to protect their cherished beliefs again, then let the media frenzy begin. Dig it all up so we can stare at it like a car wreck.
But voters who have already had enough need to keep their eyes on the prize. Last week, I would have thought that the only GOP supporters left were the Christian right and the social conservatives. This week, I'm not sure if they would be endorsed by NAMBLA. This scandal may be a necessary distraction for those people who haven't placed the Iraq war at the top of their concerns. I'm willing to endure that distraction if it means garnering more votes to elect Democrats who are willing to change course in Iraq and the entire Middle East. Our immediate local concern is electing Steve Cohen to Congress from the Ninth District. It is outrageous that a man like former representative Harold Ford, Sr., who built his family's political dynasty with the support of the Democratic Party, would withhold his support for the elected Democratic candidate. Does he intend to be the Ralph Nader of this race by supporting a candidate that could split the Democratic vote and endanger the seat? Both Fords, Sr. and Jr., need to pay attention when the president says you are with us or with them and pick a side. Then urge their son and brother Jake, (running as an Independent), who is neither informed, qualified, employed, or a High School graduate, to drop out of this race while the Democrats have a real chance to pull the rug from under these corrupt men who have wrecked our government. That is more important than attempting to keep just another average Jake (Ford) in public office after the average Joe (Ford),lost the Democratic primary. The extent of Junior's Democratic support in his Senate race again Bob "Frist Lite" Corker could well depend upon his support of Cohen.
And for the regular commenter to this blog that preaches the Tim Leary "Tune in, Turn on, and Drop out" philosophy; I have no problem with the first two thirds of your thesis. When we were children of the sixties, we had the luxury of dropping out as a protest against war profiteers, consumerism, and a militaristic society. And because we were not just idealistic, but young, we were willing to try alternative living and societal experiments because it seemed as if we had nothing to lose. It is good to remain idealistic, but we are no longer young. The people we now oppose are the same people we opposed in the sixties, only now they are our peers in open revolt against the social advances we already fought for. We are the grown-ups now and we are responsible for our government's conduct in the world. If we "drop out" we are truly lost. If you believe the Democrats' b.s. is the same as the Republicans', at least it's different b.s., and right about now, different will suffice. Leary's slogan needs to be revised to fit the times;
It might be more effective as "Tune In, Turn On, and Take Over."