Monday, October 02, 2006

Mixed feelings on the latest Republican scandal.

USA today has nice article on the Foley case. It turns out that Foley is the fourth Republican this year to resign because of ethics violations. Damn.

(Clarification: That's a "Wow, that's a comparitively big number" damn, not a "Gosh, I'm disappointed" damn.)

I do recall reading some time ago that one of my smarter ex-clients had compared the Republicans' current situation to the Democrats' situation right before the early 90's Republican revolution. Too much power makes one cocky, then moakes on feel one can get away with stuff, and that cheeses off the voters.

I hope he's right. I don't always agree with the Democrats, but the Republicans have indeed gone too far.

And I may not be thinking rationally about the Foley situation. If say, William Donald Schafer had pulled this with a teenage girl, I doubt I would have much sympathy.

I know I shouldn't feel bad for Congressman Foley. Sending the emails to that page was a really screwed-up and awful thing to do. Above all, stupid. I don't want a stupid man writing my laws. But knowing what that guy must have gone through and the sort of intolerance that he must have had to listen to is making it hard for me to totally condemn him either.

This is a weird analogy, but I find myself thinking about the Muslims who killed nuns in the wake of the Pope's comments on Islam's violent nature. (A faithful if oversimplified rendering of what the Pope said, not my own opinion.) What is it about people hating us that makes us just want to go out and prove them right?

But what's done is done and the Democrats are understandably moving in for the kill. No, Congressman Foley probably doesn't deserve to be allowed to retain his dignity. In the end, he knew that if found out, his actions would result in congressional inquiries and such and they're already starting. But I can't help feeling that the situation sort of sucks all around.

I guess I'm just a bleeding heart that way CC.


* From the article Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California resigned in November after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes. Former majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas was indicted on state campaign finance violations and resigned in June. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio has agreed to plead guilty to charges of corruption and is not seeking re-election.


Bill Baar said...

It's abuse CC. Plain and simple, no sympathy for Foley from me.

fausto said...

No sympathy for Foley from me. I'm willing to grant him the liberty of his own sexual orientation without denying him the opportunity of public service, of course. However, sexually preying upon minor (of either sex) crosses a line.

The issue here is not whether he is gay, but whether he hypocritically abused both the power of his office and the public trust for his own immoral purposes. His public posturing on moral issues (e.g., allying himself with the Religious Right and their anti-gay agenda, and serving as co-head of the House caucus on internet child predators) and his use of his position of privilege and power to meet vulnerable teens both point to a profound character flaw that is unacceptable in a public servant.

I see no difference between a pedophile congressman and a pedophile priest. And I see no difference between a House Republican leadership that buries allegations of pedophilia and a diocesan leadership that does the same thing.

Chalicechick said...

I do get that it's abuse, though I also get that I didn't properly deem it as such in my posting. That said, much abuse comes from being abused.

I'm witholding judgment on the Republican leadership for now as "There were some questionable emails and some abusive ones and we only knew about the questionable ones" has a ring of truth to me for some reason.

Maybe I'll be proved wrong.


Bill Baar said...

There I agree with you CC. I'm watching some bloggers go right off the deep end here with this story.

The abuse is not just abuse of a minor either. It would be abuse with anyone you're in a work relation ship with too.

indrax said...

I can't help but wonder the impact this is have on gay rights. Not marriage or employment, but just the right-to-exist. "ahh, we were 'tolerant' of a homosexual, in congress even, but he turned out to be a child molester."

I think this draws a lot of attention to a negative homosexual sterotype, yet it can't be rebutted as republican gay-bashing.

I think it will solidify some homophobic voters, and later be justification, if only internally, for much harsher treatment of gays.

I'd be interested to see a plot of congressional resignations over time. The unitary executive job would get alot easier if half of congress was in jail, or could reasonably expect to be so.

Steve Caldwell said...

This case raises a lot of issues.

Andrew Sullivan's blog talks about the Foley case and its similarity to the Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse cases. Both share one common trait ... the destructive effects of being closeted in a homophobic institution.

"If the Foley incident is not about pedophilia, it is also not, it seems to me, about homosexuality. It's fundamentally about the closet. The closet is so psychologically destructive it often produces pathological behavior. When you compartmentalize your life, you sometimes act out in one compartment in ways that you would never condone in another one. Think Clinton-Lewinsky, in a heterosexual context. But closeted gay men are particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing. Your psyche is so split by decades of lies and deceptions and euphemisms that integrity and mental health suffer. No one should excuse Foley's creepy interactions; they are inexcusable, as is the alleged cover-up (although we shouldn't jump to conclusions yet about who knew what when). But there's a reason gay men in homophobic institutions behave in self-destructive ways.

Or think of it another way: what do the Vatican and the RNC have in common? Here's one potential list: entrenched homophobia, psychologically damaged closet cases, inappropriate behavior toward teens and minors ... and cover-ups designed entirely to retain power. The parallels are looking a little creepy. And the source is the same."

In other words, Foley is a sexual predator and a victim of the homophobic political culture he has promoted in the GOP.

Bill Baar said...

I live in Hastert's district and I'm watching Democrats play this one up.

I have a hard time believing Hastert would cover up; but that's just my impression of the guy. He may be guilty of not seeing some red flags that he should have, but I don't think he would cover up.

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.

I grew up with people who made money this way. As a kid, I once happened accross an intoxicated gay badly beaten during one of these encounters. Besides all the blood, what sticks in my mind was the indifference to the people in the bar I walked into and asked them to call the police. They felt the guy got what he deserved and made no efforts to help him.

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.

It's not unheard of thing. I've seen it happen. It's not a result of living a closeted life so much as just living risky. Hetrosexuals do it too.

Anonymous said...

The way the Republicans worked corruption in the early '90s to their advantage was to be willing to thrown their own to the wolves in order to hold the high ground. To quote the Wikipedia entry on the House Banking scandal:
'In the early days of the scandal, when the media began reporting on the loose practices, Republican Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, along with 7 freshman Republicans referred to as the Gang of Seven or "The Young Turks," made the strategic decision to publicize the scandal in an attempt to sweep lawbreaking congressmen, most of them Democrats, out of power. Gingrich realized that far more Democrats could be implicated in this scandal than Republicans, so he made the decision to make all of the culprits public and "let the chips fall where they may. Jim Nussle, one of the Gang of Seven, came to national attention when he made a speech from the well of the House while wearing a paper bag over his head to protest the "shameful" ethical behavior involved in the scandal.

Rather than caving in to pressure from Democrats to minimize the extent of the scandal by limiting publicity only to the handful of House members who repeatedly broke the law, Gingrich took steps to ensure that the special counsel appointed to investigate the matter informed the voting public of the overdrafts and the identities of ALL the congressmen responsible[4]. This decision rebounded on Gingrich somewhat when it was disclosed that he himself had written a number of overdrafted checks.'

I suspect that where the Republicans are losing their way now is by behaving the Democrats of that time: trying to shield their wrongdoers rather than shove them out. The Democrats, on the other hand, are doing a decent job of Gingriching their corrupt members; c.f. Pelosi's pushing out William Jefferson.

Steve Caldwell said...

Bill ... regarding who knew what when, check out the Foley event timeline on

Foley timeline

There were several other adults who knew about Foley's sexually explicit emails and other communication since Fall 2005. These congressional staffers either sat on the information and did nothing or they told their bosses about it and their bosses decided to sit on it.

Regarding your suggestion that the youth could be "predatory" ... that sounds very close to "blaming the victim." There is no evidence that the youth was attempting to entrap Foley, blackmail him, etc.

It's worth reading the sexually explicit IM transcript from ABC's web site: