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Monday, October 02, 2006
 
More on Rep. Mark Foley (R-Nambla)

A few comments on the ever "evolving" Foley situation:

1. I think it is very important not to get too caught up in partisan gamesmanship. Though I doubt there will be a rush to defend Foley, I think that some may seek ways to diminish the offense by splitting legal hairs or by comparing his behavior with equally offensive behavior by others (Frank, Studds) who have been given a pass. I don't think we can or should do that. We need to stay consistent. Foley's a sexual predator. This kid was 16 years old. If he did this to any of our kids over the internet, we would want him dead, and rightly so.

2. How do we view the behavior of House leadership? To be fair about it, let's put it from their perspective in 2005, when they were notified that Foley had exchanged "overly-friendly" e-mails with a page. Nothing illicit and nothing sexual, just creepy.

What did they do? They read him the riot act and told him to stay the heck away from the pages and cease contact with this kid. I'm not sure what else they could have done at that point. They may have suspected that there was more to it, but without anything beyond that, what can they really do?

Should they have taken his chairmanship away? That's easy to say now that we've seen the other e-mails, but without that smoking gun, they had nothing on Foley other than he was a closeted homosexual who asked a 16 year old about his birthday and checked up on him. I'm sure Foley said it was all an innocent misunderstanding and he thought the kid was "troubled" or some such nonsense.

If you are leadership, you don't like what he did, but you were hard pressed to take any action without looking like some paranoid homophobes who throw a hissy fit every time a homosexual talks to a young boy. In a bizarre way, I think political correctness probably protected Foley to some extent. I can imagine him saying something to the extent of: "I'm shocked -- shocked -- that you would allege such a thing. You wouldn't even be calling me in here if I wasn't gay."

Apparently, the Palm Beach paper knew about the same e-mail exchange that the leadership did. They too did nothing. I think that's a pretty strong indication that this set of e-mails (from 2005, I think) were not sufficient to justify a media story, nonetheless legal action. It is hard to suggest that the House leadership should have acted differently given what they knew at the time. Of course, if it turns out they knew even more, that would change things.

3. It seems clear to me that Hastert suspects that this scandal was timed to go off when it did.
His letter to the A.G. suggests that he believes that the Democrats knew about this behavior for quite some time and held off until October. If that's the case, that isn't good either. The real issue is when did people learn about the 2003 e-mails (the sexually explicit ones).

Bottom line (stop giggling): If either the House leadership or the Dems learned about them prior to anytime in the last few weeks, they have little excuse for not doing the right thing and notifying the authorities and there will be hell to pay. The Dems will have a field day regardless, with the media's help, but we have Foley to thank for that.

Of course, Foley could have avoided this with three simple words.

One more thing: the comparison to Studds should not be used to excuse or diminish Foley's behavior, but I think it can be used to illustrate the rank hypocrisy on the part of the Democrats here. Someone should pull together Studds FEC records and old newspaper clips to see which Democrats who are outraged about Foley were supporting (through endorsements and/or checks) a member of Congress who had sex with an underage male page.

I'd start with this: John Kerry's listing of the "Gerry Studds Stewardship Award" in 2001. The original site is down, but a text site is still available here.

Also, Congress should give some thought about changing the name of the Gerry Studds National Marine Sanctuary on Stellwagen bank (see here, again courtesy John F. Kerry, who also accepted a campaign donation from Studds in 2004).

And for what it is worth, Wizbang says Foley's ouster is a sign of progress. Given where Congress came down on previous kid-touchers, anything short of naming a Marine Sanctuary after Foley would constitute progress.


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