Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Foley again.

Responding to some of the comments in the first Foley post.

((There were several other adults who knew about Foley's sexually explicit emails and other communication since Fall 2005.)))

Again, the emails weren't sexually explicit. You can read them by clicking right here.

They were a little weird and asked for a picture of the kid, but they weren't particularly over any line. That's the problem with Foley's behavior. It was a little TOO friendly, but never over the line in a public way.

(E.g. The Washington Post today writes: Another page had won a lunch with the congressman that year at the annual page auction. When he asked to go to Morton's steakhouse, Foley said on the House floor that the two of them "proceeded to cruise down in my BMW to Morton's. And all of this story is meant to make you all feel jealous that you were not the high bidders." Yeah, that sounds ominious now. But two weeks ago would any of us looked at that and gone "Gee, Foley's a sexual abuser?" I think we would have said "OK, Foley's kind of an obnoxious goofball. Oh well." The Post story is full of things that we wouldn't think much of if we didn't know Foley was really after these kids. Their whole article is like "He liked to TAKE THE PAGES OUT FOR ICE CREAM!" Cue scary music...)

The IM transcripts were the ones that were sexually explicit and so far NOBODY has shown any proof that the Republican leadership knew about them before somebody gave them to ABC news a week ago.

Think about it like you're a member of the Republican house leadership:

Last spring you found out about emails where Foley says things like "How are you weathering the hurricaines...are you safe?....send me a pic of you as well..." and those emails were all you knew about, you would probably say to yourself "I'm not THRILLED that a congressman, especially a gay one, is sending emails to a high school boy, but if this comes to light, it all looks explainable enough. We will just call anyone who is suspicious on the matter a homophobe."

But what if you did know about the IMs? You would also know that:

a. It's very unlikely that a sex scandal will stay under wraps for very long, especially one involving a kid, and when it comes out Foley will have to quit.

b. Foley's district is heavily Republican and would happily elect a decent other Republican in Foley's place if given the chance. Foley would be easily replaced.

So what would you do? You'd find a nice young Palm Beach lawyer or businessman, a little more conservative than Foley while you're at it, then take the leadership in to meet with Foley. You would hand Foley the IM transcripts and tell him that his doctor has told him that he's sick and all the stress of being a congressman is making him sicker. And he's an alcoholic.

Foley holds a press conference and resigns in April or so, perhaps even introducing his replacement. Governor Bush shows up to wish Foley the best and say nice things about Foley's replacement.

Foley goes to rehab.

Now if the chat transcipts ever do come out, the party leadership can say "We made him quit, but we wanted to let him keep his dignity." New Palm Beach candidate is shocked and saddened by the whole thing, and probably easily elected.

Looking at it from this way, I think there's just about no way the R's knew about the more explicit stuff. The way to damage control to make it go away, and the potential for what is happening now to happen, is just too obvious.

(((Regarding Steve's quote of AA, there's been a long standing practice of rolling older gays. A younger kid used a bait, the guy propositions him, and then a crowd of guys surround the gay demanding money or they'll call the cops...Foley is a predator but it's a jungle out there and he may have preyed on a kid who was looking for prey too.))))

I do agree that this sounds like blaming the victim. Judging by the gay kids I knew in high school and how they regarded their relationships with older men, the kid in the IM transcripts either thought he was in love, or knew the older guy would eventually get rid of him in the end and was along for the ride. (I had one very cynical gay friend in high school who viewed his older dates this second way. As far as they ever said to me, the other gay kids felt, well, like I did at sixteen when an older, more powerful man paid attention to me.)

I don't doubt that rolling happens. But this doesn't sound like it to me.

Though I don't recall being a poor innocent lamb at sixteen, I do believe that adults should basically stay away from teenagers sexually because the potential for abuse is very much there.



Bill Baar said...

Don't discount it wasn't a partisan "kid" rolling Foley (and I think one reason the FBI never went further with this when the Miami papers gave it to them was because he wasn't a kid as far as DC concerned).

It sure looks like to me like it was engineered by Dems to depress the conservative-social voters and make them stay home.

And it's going to have a horrible impact on Gay men; who are going to have to seem mean towards kids for ever after this.

I've argued on blogs that many Conservative Christians are sometimes better friends to the Gay community then their supposed allies in the Democratic party. I got this anonymous response, from a gay (I guess),

There are those against us, and those against those against us; but no one really for us

A Conservative Christian would have had an immediate response to who is for Gays.

But I think Democrats are showing they're pepared to use some homophobia -and that's the impluse they're hitting here- to make Social Conservatives stay home from voting.

I don't know what our Sinkford say. I haven't seen any public Religous leaders speak to this one.

When we were considering Churches, I told my wife my experience with UU Churches was they were always very well run. They never stumbled over these kinds of problems. So I think we have something to offer here and I hope we don't overlook that by joining the Dems accusing Republicans of being hypocrites because they cover up closeted-self-loathing-gays. That would be a horrible way to go.

Chalicechick said...

These chats are from 2003.

If the Dems had set up a sting, and I've written that this is a possibility I considered, why would they wait three years?

I wouldn't put it past the dems for have found out in July or so and sat on it for a couple of months, but if they'd had the info in 2003, I assume it would have come out before the 2004 congressional elections.


Bill Baar said...

I glanced at some comments coming from former pages about Foley all the way back to 1995. He's been the over-friendly-closeted-but-known-gay for over a decade.

One reason I support gay marriage is because I've been involved first hand in so many work-place abuse and favoritism cases involving gay men.

If the same rules that applied to hetro couples applied to them, most of it could never have happened. People would have felt freer to speak out.

Hopefully the FBI will figure out who knew what and when; and I think the trail goes back to this SOROs funded CREW outfit and the anon webpage that launched this.... problem is they won't be guilty of covering up abuse with minors because I suspect the bad stuff was all with people of age. And whether it was cooridinated with the Nat Dems I don't know.

I know, what's bad for UU's and liberalism in general is this notion we must out the hypocrites. That one's personal life must perfectly compliment one's thoughts on public policy.

We move more and more in that direction and I think it's bad on many levels.

For starters, I think there is a truth, a right decision, in most cases --or at least a right decision that's better than all the other options-- that a person can get at too with reason, ethics, and morality all unrelated to how we live our personal life.

Sometimes I stay after at the homeless shelter for bible service with the evangelicas. I sing the sing, pray, etc... a UU told me I was a hypocrite for that because I don't call myself a Christian. (So instead I should tell the homeless besides having no home, they have no God too?)

Well, sort of, but I can reconcile it somehow... but I see this strange movement afoot among UUs that they need to "reclaim" the values agenda by showing they live more moral lives. The conservatives I associate with never assert their personally more moral. Just that there are moral truths, positions, policy that a person can reasonabley argue and support even though in many intances we personally fail to live up to them

It's a very different way of thinking and think the trend for right-thinking right-living has really taken ove the left and maybe there more inclined to call out the hypocrites then ever before.

Problem of course is the leave rational discourse an argumentation aside, for the purge of deviants. I don't think they have a clue what path they're heading us down here.

Bill Baar said...

I find it next to impossible to edit comments in these boxes and it's time to move on... but I think the gist of my thinking clear enough here.

Chalicechick said...

OK, maybe my head is muddled today, but I don't understand that at all. All CREW ever had were the (not particularly incriminating) emails, which they also turned over to the FBI. But they say they didn't get them until July.

The Republican leadership admits to knowing at various times last fall and this spring, several months BEFORE Crew had the emails.

So how is the coverup a Democratic problem?

AS far as I've seen nobody had the (truly incriminating) IMs until they were turned in to ABC news, possibly by the kid who IMed with Foley.

As for the rest, given the Clinton impeachment, I can't imagine why you see this as mostly a liberal thing.


Bill Baar said...

It's not your head. The facts here are muddled and I for one not about to wade through them all.

I appreciate you're blogging it because you give me all I care or need to know.

I don't think Pelosi, Durbin, and Reid sat down and dreamed this up. I do think there are folks on the left who've felt for a long time Gay Republicans and their staffers should be outed.

Now they're joining up with the right. The left's expectation it will keep the so called value voters at home in disgust. The right is out because they think they're was a gay conspiracy to protect Foley.

So we're getting this now.

As far as I can tell Hastert's mistake was not making what he knew available to Dems. He wasn't bi partisan and he should have been. As far as I can tell there were no red flags other than well like closed older gay male being overly friendly to 16 and 17 yo males.

I may be seeing Dems make more hay out of this too living in Hastert's district. Some big local conservative bloggers are asking him to resign over it. Yesterday it was the local Democrats.

Chalicechick said...

I think it is mostly people expecting Hastert and others to have put the peices together and figured out what Foley was up to and/or has his computers searched and found out that way.

I think that's a little optimistic, but I could be wrong.


Bill Baar said...

I'm not sure expecting Hastert to do that (or Shimkus or whomever) is even right.

One thing I find strange is these were young men just 12 or 18 months away from an age when the United States would ask them to volunteer, to risk their lives, to kill, in service of our country.

And Hastert is expected to protect them from a 52 yo guy who writes them lewd email?

Bill Baar said...

The other puzzling thing is why you and I are the only ones talking here CC. (I suppose I've set myself up here with that.)

When it comes to managing youth programs, I think we UUs do a stellar job.

There are also basic issues of sexual ethics here.

I think our OWL programs do a pretty good job of teaching an ethics.

We should probably be teaching Congress how to manage a program for young adults.

The silence is curious.

Bill Baar said... young adults, I mean teens... if that's not clear.... teens always ask not to be treated as kids...

Bill Baar said...

Passionate America is looking at the IMs and finding the kid was 18 at the time. Via NewsBusters.

Joel Monka said...

Bill- I think the reason the two of you are the only ones talking is that between you, you've said it all.

Philocrites said...

Not to rain on any parades, but The Hill reports: "The source who in July gave news media Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-Fla.) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide."

Not to mention the further revelations that Foley's former chief of staff claims to have told senior House leaders about Foley's behavior as early as 2003.

Sometimes people blow themselves up. Democrats may be enjoying Schadenfreude, but the dirty tricks in Foleygate appear largely to be happening within the Republican Party.

fausto said...

I'm trying to draw a valid distinction in my mind between Foley and Rep. Gerry Studds, for whom I interned when I was a college student in 1976, and who was caught up in a very similar scandal in 1983. (And he's a UU, BTW.)

When Gerry's scandal broke out, it surprised me, and like a majority of the voters in his district (who proceeded to re-elect him), I was willing to forgive. But Foley, not so much.

I feel instinctively that there is a distinction to be drawn, but I'm having some difficulty expressing it in a way that to me has sufficient integrity. It would be wrong to forgive Gerry merely because he's liberal and condemn Foley merely because he's conservative, so it's important to be able to draw a meaningful distinction between the two cases.

The gist of the distinction I want to draw has to do with predation, honesty, and abuse of trust. Studds, I want to believe, had integrity in this regard but Foley did not. WHen I worked for Gerry as an impressionable youth, he did not cross personal boundaries with me or any of the other young men in or around the office. He was the consummate professional doing the people's business, and my role and relationship with him there was, and was only, to help out as much as I could as a researcher and go-fer. Foley, OTOH, apparently was always trolling and schmoozing inappropriately with the youngest staff he could find in ways that would have gotten him fired from any high school wrestling coach position (are you listening, Denny Hastert?) long before he eventually got his comeuppance in Congress.

When Studds was censured, he appeared in public with the supposed "victim", who declared together with Studds that they were both responsible moral agents and what they did together behind closed doors was nobody's business but theirs. When Foley was discovered, it was through an e-mail in which his "victim" protested, "sick! sick! sick!"

Despite the similarity of the circumstances, I see a meaningful distinction between the moral character of the two Congressmen.

Am I fooling myself?

Joel Monka said...

I don't know enough about the two men to know if you are fooling yourself, Fausto- was it a difference in substance, or merely style?

Bill may be right, it now seems- Drudge is reporting that the page was actually over 18 when the obscene IM's were sent, (which would make it merely crass, not a crime), and that the webblog that broke the story was a set-up, and that DailyKos picked up the story only 12 minutes after it was posted on this blog, despite the blog having no links and not showing up on Google.

It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

Bill Baar said...

Joel, appreciate your postive words. I defend Hastert on local GOP sites here in Illinois and get anon comments about wanting to protect child predators.

Re fausto and Studds vs Foley: Today's standard for the workplace is either kind of behavior not appropriate.

Studd's comment that what happened was between consenting adults wouldn't count for much. Once you start a relationship in the office, one partner usually has to leave. In that sense Foley may be on firmer ground as he was IMing with former pages. If there is no crime, no abuse of children, then he's just a guy wasting time with obscene IMs. Appalling but there are millions doing it now probably on the net as I type here.

This is all complicated of course because Congress has exempted itself from many rules enforced throughout the rest of the Gov and private industry.

Bringing this back to UUism, one of my disappointments has been our slogan of marriage equality by which we mean we support same-sex marriage.

I think we should just say that, and then thing hard about sexual ethics and whether we need to say something in a much broader way about sexuality.

Is cbyer sex wrong? Is it just a bad habit? Is it immoral? If we have gay marriage,is gay sex outside of marriage wrong?

Maybe I should sit through my kids OWL program (which sounded surprizingly puritanical to me from the overview I was given) but I don't know if sexuality morality is talked about much in UUism other than were ok with same-sex marriage.

I'm rambling here.... sorry.

PG said...

Maybe it's just because I was a 16 year old on the internets in the mid '90s, but "send me a pic of yourself" is such a red flag. Honestly, if any of these Congressmen simply had asked themselves, "If I had seen that e-mail on my teenager's account, from an adult old enough to be his father, would I assume that it was simply 'a little weird'?" I don't think Foley still would have been in power at this point. I see CC's idea that if the Congressmen were *convinced* that this was pedophiliac behavior, and that it would become a scandal, they would have nudged Foley out and installed another Republican in his place. But that assumes that we have a Republican leadership strongly inclined to see worst case scenarios (i.e. that Foley was a predator and not merely odd, and that his behavior would be publicized when the parents of the kids didn't want it to become public knowledge). I really don't think the last several years bear out that characterization -- this is a pretty optimistic bunch.

As for gay men's having to be mean to kids, I think that it only means gay men will have to treat male children the same way heterosexual men are expected to treat female children. Indeed, my Republican boyfriend is convinced that if all e-mails to pages were investigated, we'd find plenty from Democrats who were hitting on their underage female pages.

Chalicechick said...

I think our disagreement here comes down to whether "send me a pic of yourself" sounds like inherently pedophilic behavior to a reasonable person.

I don't know. It sounds "weird, but explainable" to me, but maybe people have more street smarts than I'm assuming.

I don't so much require the R's to be convinced Foley is a pedophile as I expected them to need to be convinced that he LOOKS like a pedophile. To me, some rumors and a "send me a pic" don't get there, but again, maybe the R's are more street smart than me.


PG said...

I guess it just depends on what one's norms of internet behavior have been. My first online interactions were on Prodigy chatting, and after the first couple of times I said OK to going into a private chat with guys, I knew better than to do it again, and I *always* knew better than to send them a picture. On the other hand, if your norm of internet behavior has been more as an adult interacting with other adults, who ask for one's picture after extensive conversing just so they know what the person they've been talking to looks like, I can see why "send me a pic" doesn't sound weird.

Unfortunately, I think my norms are closer to what was going on with Foley than what I'm guessing are your norms, and I don't think a Republican leadership that has added a ton of rules to prevent porn from getting anywhere near minors is presumptively less suspicious of online activity than I. (And whoever runs all those "do you know what your kids are doing online?" ads.) I mean, why did they think Foley wanted the picture? for his secretary's collage of how all the pages looked a year later?

I don't want to be hyper-suspicious of adults who interact with minors -- I like working with kids and all of my volunteering since I was 16 myself has been with them -- but I always leave it up to the kids to set how personal our relationship is going to be. The kid I tutored my first year in college made me a Christmas card that I praised lavishly and reciprocated the next time I saw her, but I didn't ask her for one. The kid I tutored my first year in college hugged me when she saw me the next year, and I returned the hug, but didn't start it. And I have no concern that anyone would think I was a lesbian pedophile if I were more pushy about affection from my kids. It's just the appropriate way to behave -- let the person with less power set the parameters of intimacy.