what do you expect?
Wow. Readers of hoverbike know that I generally don't blog about major news stories: I always figure there is enough noise out there about anything going on in the mainstream media. However, I just couldn't resist the unfolding drama around Mark Foley's fall from grace.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that congressional pages are preyed upon by older staff and members of congress. In fact, two Congressmen got in trouble for just that in 1983. One was a Republican who hooked up with an underage female page, the other a Democrat who had a relationship with a 17 year old male. The Republican was defeated in the next election, while the Democrat was reelected repeatedly. They were both officially censured by the House.
What Foley did was disgusting and should be illegal. Apparently though, the age of concent in the District of Columbia (run by Congress, remember) is 16, and so it is possible that his lecherous emails and messages are perfectly legal.
What is most disturbing, however, has been the reaction on the right to the hypocracy of one of their rising stars. The party which prides itself on being the moral gatekeepers of the nation have found a pedophile among their ranks, something which in an alternate universe might prompt some discussion about the silliness of holding elected officials up as moral paragons. Instead, Foley gave the Republican leadership a gift: he came out of the closet.
By admitting what everyone in Washington already knew, that he is a gay man, Foley allowed conservatives to go around saying "what do you expect? He's gay." Right wing playmaker Paul Weyrich today on NPR stated clearly what everyone else is saying between the lines: "it's well known that gays are obsessed with sex." When pressed by the interviewer to justify such a wildly homophobic statement he explained that this is a well-established fact, backed up by psychologists and scholars and others "who have to deal with them (gay people)".
It's a brilliant way to play to a base that makes little distinction between consensual gay relationships and child molestation. A recent caller in to a CSPAN talk show asked why people were making such a big deal about it, since Democratic congressman Barney Frank has been an "avowed homosexual" for years. Jesus.
And if the ploy doesn't work, Foley has also claimed to have been molested by a Catholic priest, allowing the fundementalist base to dismiss him as an isolated incident on two counts. Gay. Catholic. Oh, and an Alcoholic. All the bases are covered.
There are loads of gay catholic alcoholics out there, even some who were molested by priests. I'm sure many of them are Republicans. However, very, very, very few of them are pedophiles. Just Mark Foley.