How do you react to something like this? Former Rep. Mark Foley was cruising to reelection one day and then a child sex predator the next.
There are so many angles to this story that will be played out and discussed over the coming days, but I agree with Dean Barnett writing at Hugh Hewitt.com. This is first and foremost a human tragedy that involves real people and that trancends politics. This should not be viewed as a strictly political event. He wrote:
Most people don’t closely identify with either party and they view political obsessives the same way they view avid stamp collectors or grown-ups who play with model trains. In other words, they view political junkies as freaks. Perhaps benign freaks, but freaks nonetheless.
And you have to admit, they have a point. If your first reaction to the Mark Foley scandal was to think of the political implications, you’ve got yourself a one-track mind.
This story is breaking all over the place in so many different ways on the political front that it is hard to ignore. Republicans are trying to figure out how this impacts them on a national level and in their individual reelection campaigns. Democrats are trying to turn this into a national scandal, tying Republican leadership to the mess, without reminding anyone of their own similar past sins.
It appears from all the facts that the leadership did not know about the sexually-charged Instant Messages and had the same information that led the St. Petersburg Times to choose not to report a story on the original emails.
As an aside, if it turns out the Republican leadership did know that Foley was engaged in solicting a minor and they hid it in order to avoid the political fall-out, then they deserve to lose. It would close any doubt that they have sold all principles for a better chance at power. I hope that is not the case, but unfortunately it would not surprise me.
I have been intrigued by the responses through out the blogosphere, particularly on the right. The reaction by the left is to be expected.
One reaction on the
left “true conservative” side of the aisle that interested me was Andrew Sullivan’s – who turned this into a debate on the evils of the “closet.”
At Opinion Journal, in his Best of the Web Today, James Taranto responded:
It seems to us that someone who is sexually interested in children had damn well better stay in the closet, and if he can’t, he should be put in one with a thick metal door that locks from the outside. It is astonishing, and more than a little disturbing, that Sullivan would seek to make Foley a poster child for gay liberation.
Many on the right are trying to find the balance between distancing themselves from Foley, while questioning the timing and the charges themselves. Since, Foley has decided to not defend himself, essentially admitting some guilt, no one is going to go to bat for him. He has since checked into alcohol rehab. (Doesn’t everyone when they get caught doing something wrong?)
So while no one is defending Foley, many are attacking the origination of the charges. At The American Thinker, Clarice Feidman tracks the history of the story and draws a connection to the George Soros funded CREW. Blog P.I. wonders about the (fake?) blog behind it all. Allah notes some differences in emails posted online, emails quoted by ABC and NY Times and comments by a former page.
Personally, this sickens me. Foley should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He should register as a child sex offender and be forced to carry that stigma.
Politcally, this intrigues me. The fallout from this is not over. I don’t think we know everything yet. I think when this is all said and done. Foley will look worse. The Republican leadership will have a black eye, but no smoking gun to prove they knew and didn’t do anything.
The Democrats tactic will back fire as they appear to be capitalizing off this for strictly political gain. Insinuations about numerous other members of Congress will fly fast and loose until the elections.
Unfortunately, politics is a dirty game. Many Republicans and Democrats do not care about principles and they will do what ever it takes to keep themselves in or regain power. You can almost bet that it will come out that someone else has been doing something similar – at least the allegations will surface.
Politically it will be interesting to see where this goes from here. Personally and more importantly, more should be done to protect pages and young people in general who are under the influence of adults. I hope this will teach children, parents and potential offenders a lesson.