Thursday, October 05, 2006

Grown-ups are still AWOL on Foley

The Foley scandal continues to illustrate the way in which overweening partisanship makes people who are otherwise capable of critical thought act like a bunch of quarrelling children. In this case, it's the Dems who, seeing a little blood in the water, just can't control themselves. We are told that the GOP leadership protected a sexual predator "for years." Campaign contributions from those leaders to other Republican candidates has suddenly become "dirty money."

The first proposition is light years beyond the evidence. Maybe we will learn that someone in the GOP leadership knew Foley was a sexual predator for years and covered it up, but we don't know that yet. What we know is that the guy had a reputation for being very outgoing and friendly with the pages but, to date, we aren't aware that anyone in authority knew there were any sexual overtones to this "for years" or even "months." We know that, last fall, they did find out that he had asked a page for a picture and he was told to knock it off. Would anyone - could anyone - have done more? We know that when sexually explicit IMs came to light, he resigned.

There may turn out to be more there, but what we see now is people who want to gain partisan advantage from this ignoring critical distinctions and overhyping the evidence. Thus, we see folks like local liberal blogger Jay Bullock (who knows better)stating that the claim of former Foley chief of staff Kirk Fordham that he complained of Foley's "inappropriate behavior" in 2003 somehow proves that the House leadership "protected a sexual predator" for "years, people." But when we read beyond the headline, we see that Fordham had no knowledge of - and did not complain of - any sexual behavior or advances. Some pages merely thought Foley was being "more friendly" than he should have been.

In hindsight, I guess he was, but how does one decide that and, more importantly, what does one do about it? Pages are already heavily chaperoned and monitored (which is why, I suspect, Foley probably never had sex with any of them.) In addition, unless 17 year old boys have changed since I was one, that perception of being "overly friendly" was undoubtedly fueled by the common knowledge that Foley was gay. What was the House leadership supposed to do with that?

Maybe the GOP leadership did protect a sexual predator for years, but the evidence for that is yet to be found.

I understand the desire to see your side win, but I'd like to think intellectual integrity counts for something.

The second proposition (the money is dirty) is just nonsense. It amounts to an argument that the money was given in exchange for silence about something that there is no evidence that either the donor or the donee knew about. Even if it turns out that John Boehner knew something more incriminating about Foley, there is no evidence that John Gard (who received a lawful campaign contribution from Foley) knew any thing to be silent about.

Nor does the receipt of that money obligate the recipients to vote for the present GOP leadership. A campaign contribution is, at most, an endorsement of the donee by the donor. People who get contributions are not obligated to stand by those who make them and, in this case, if the GOP leadership needs to go, there will be new leadership candidates whose campaign money will spend just as well.

I don't claim that lots of Republicans wouldn't do the same thing and many are getting suckered into playing the game now. We'll see your Mark Foley and raise you Gerry Studds or Mel Reynolds.

I know it can't be stopped, but it's all boring and unbecoming. It has nothing to do with who should win the elections. I'm not going to play.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile the Republicans are all scrambling for position...

Sorry, but it's kind of fun to watch.

Disclaimer: I don't know who knew what when, and I don't really care about the money. I just think it's interesting how the GOP House members seem ready to throw Denny under the bus.

Mixter

Dad29 said...

Yah, the Dems are WAYYYY overplaying their hand.

But Hastert's in-house cop-shop should have been a LOT more aggressive in questioning, much earlier on.

It is NOT a coverup. It's stupidity, or damn-near-culpable ignorance/naivete.

Mixter said...

Hastert actually did the smart thing politically by saying he won't resign and apologizing. He should have done that right away, but it may just save him.

Funny thing is, I really haven't read any liberal blogs yelling about a cover-up. But, I tend to steer away from the A-listers, so that may be why.

I think Dad's right. I think it was more stupidity than anything else, but time will tell.

Mixter

atarijpb said...

This is the best you have? Wait for the whole story to come out?

After 6 years of your side ramming propaganda down people's throats, did you really think this wasn't going to happen sooner?

You seem to insinuate that there will be some opposite reaction to all of this - have you ever considered that this is the opposite reaction to the last 6 years of slime?

Ney, Abramoff, Cunningham, Foley. All within one year. Don't you get why people are upset about this no matter who knew what?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It's a fascinating turn of events that has trumped-up scandal being called "unbecoming" by Republicans less than a decade after the political castration of a president for - what? Sex with another consenting adult. Further, the "politics" accusation is itself a political move. I suspect the irony isn't lost on you. For what it's worth, the hypocrisy isn't lost on me.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It's a fascinating turn of events that has trumped-up scandal being called "unbecoming" by Republicans less than a decade after the political castration of a president for - what? Sex with another consenting adult. Further, the "politics" accusation is itself a political move. I suspect the irony isn't lost on you. For what it's worth, the hypocrisy isn't lost on me.