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Political Static


Okay. I’ll play the politics game.

Let’s all pretend that we are absolutely shocked that House Speaker Dennis Hastert did nothing when it came to his attention that former Rep. Mark Foley was soliciting sex from teenage pages.

And then let’s pretend that the Democrats knew absolutely nothing about this until just recently and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the upcoming congressional elections.

On the other hand, we could express righteous indignation that the scandal had to be made public before the Republicans would be concerned for the rights of these children. Or we could be righteously indignant about how many of the children were solicited while the Democrats bided their time waiting the break the news.

Once again politics have managed to deflect the real issue. Though, I have to admit, the reaction is beginning to be as entertaining as any slapstick movie I’ve ever seen. Republicans keep poking each other in the eye and punching each other in the stomach in their efforts to point the finger and pass the buck. Democrats, having salivated for however long until the proper time to act surprised at a politically advantageous time, are chowing down on a feast of smugness.

Am I the only one who has this picture of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi locking herself in her office and doing a silent happy dance as she talks on the phone to reporters expressing her shock and outrage that such immorality exists in U.S. Congress? Truly, as uplifted as I would be should a woman finally take over as Speaker of the House, I can’t help but imagine I’m seeing the sides of Pelosi’s mouth twitch up whenever she comments on how angry this misuse of the public’s trust makes her. I know she’s the head of the party and all, but can’t the Democrats find someone else to comment who can give this issue – which is, by the way, the emotional abuse of children – it’s proper perspective?

A person entrusted with the well-being of children (and, trust me, teenagers are children), not only had sexual thoughts about teenage boys but, apparently while intoxicated, acted on those thoughts. With all due respect for my colleague here at Spot-On, Scott Olin Schmidt, what has been proven about Foley’s conduct up to this point is no minor consideration. We’re not talking innuendo here. These were sexually explicit messages sent to minors. Had a teacher or youth leader done the same thing anywhere else in the country, they wouldn’t have time to dive into rehab before the mob came for them.

Let’s hope that, once having sent solicitous e-mails, Foley sobered up enough to judge that actual sexual contact with a minor is a bad thing for a member of the House of Representatives to do. Only time will tell.

And what’s with that “excuse list” Foley presented through his attorney? His reasoning: He’s gay, as a teenager he was molested by a clergymen and he’s an alcoholic. I would think gay rights activists would find it insulting that his sexual orientation was listed along with alcoholism and abuse as excuses for misconduct.

In the meanwhile, politics has deflected the issue to who knew what when and, frankly, no one is coming out looking good. In the meantime, we get to hear all those interesting metaphors for what the Republicans are going to have to do with Hastert: “throw him to the wolves;” “push him under the train;” “shove him in front of the bus;” and – a particularly picturesque scenario provided by former Secretary of State James Baker: “throw him off the sled to slow down the wolves.”

But it’s all just static, isn’t it? It’s all just politics.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 5:51 PM | Permalink

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