Monday, October 02, 2006

Maf54, where are you?

I wasn't originally going to write anything about the Mark Foley circus (*snort* *giggle*). Over the last few days I've been complaining to people about how this lurid side issue was getting so much more play than stuff like, oh, Congress legalizing torture, for example. But now that the coverup's starting to emerge, now it's starting to get interesting.

[Updated: Ok, I'm hooked on this scandal, I admit it. It's almost a guilty pleasure, in a way. Two subsequent posts of mine about Foleyrama (so far): Fall Foleyage and Kirk Fordham: human sacrifice.]

Don't get me wrong here; I don't buy the beltway-junkie cliche that the coverup is always so much worse than the act itself. We don't know yet whether Foley's advances ever succeeded or not, but his intentions were clear, and when the person in question is under the age of consent, it's not an "affair" (as our own Oregonian termed it in the Goldschmidt scandal); it's child abuse. That's far worse that the efforts by various random Congressbots to hush the story up. Cowardly little men trying to save their own skins and keep their share of power? Hell, that happens all the time. It's only news when that doesn't happen. So of course they tried to cover it up, and plugged their ears to avoid learning any more about it. Well, duh! Big surprise, there. I don't even see a partisan dimension to this aspect of the story; there've been enough scandals on the 'D' side over the years that it's hard to argue the coverup business is a uniquely Republican problem.

But still, I cheerfully admit to a healthy dollop of meanspirited partisan glee at the current scandal. The Foley follies are not the top issue facing the country, but the scandal does illustrate very clearly what sort of people are running the country, and Congress in particular, these days. If it helps the Republicans lose control of either house, great. The issues that really matter haven't quite gotten the job done, so I'm all for plastering Foleygate all over the evening news every night between now and election day, if that's what it takes. If it means Dubya no longer has a blank check to shred the Constitution and start (and botch) wars in every corner of the globe, hey, put Foley's creepy mug on every billboard in the country. I try not to be an "end justifies the means" sort of person, but it just seems unavoidable this time around. The stakes this time are a lot higher than simply which mob of inmates gets to run the asylum for the next two years.

  • Since political debate in the media is hopelessly lurid, shallow, and sleazy, I might as well lead with ABC's transcript of Foley's instant messaging excitement, which they've titled as READER DISCRETION STRONGLY ADVISED (caps theirs).
  • The Portland Mercury's (sorta) own Dan Savage explains exactly where the real badness is in the Foley scandal. Here's a dirty little secret I share with a lot of people on the liberal side of things: Do I personally care about the "gay angle"? No, of course not, not at all, but would I mind if the fundies get all disgusted and freaked-out over it and stay home on election day? No, I wouldn't mind that one bit. That would be just fine. I'm not proud of it, but there you have it.
  • The real fun in the next few days will be watching Thomas Reynolds, the current Republican campaign committee chair, twist in the wind. I admit I'm not a wonkish beltway type, but I'd never heard of the guy before, and I don't think he's spent a lot of time in the limelight up to now. So far he's not looking too good here. First, here's a bit at ThinkProgress about Reynolds accepting $100k from Foley a few months ago, after he knew about the emails and such. My understanding is that contributing to the party campaign committee is not unusual, in itself, but this still looks like hush money, and it'd still look like hush money even if I didn't have a partisan interest in the matter.
  • Oh, and let's not forget his behind-the-scenes effort to get ABC to drop, or at least soft-pedal, the matter. At the very least, this guy lacks the basic political instincts you need in a job like his.
  • What I really like is the way Foley immediately disappeared into "alcohol rehab". It puzzles me to no end how, in this country, rehab has become the respectable way to drop out of sight for a while and wait for things to blow over. Look at Patrick Kennedy, just a few months ago (*snort* *giggle*). The standard rehab strategy isn't working so well this time, though; there was no previous mention of a substance problem, and it's really tough to attribute all of Foley's behavior to one fruity parasol drink too many. Put him through rehab, and all he'll be is a clean and sober pedophile. That's really not much of an improvement, if you ask me. That is, if he really is in "rehab". Post-9/11, Republicans pride themselves on their willingness and ability to make inconvenient people "disappear". Maybe Foley's relaxing in a discreet gated golf resort outside Palm Springs, maybe he's hooked up to the electrodes down in Guantanamo for bringing dishonor to the Party, and maybe we'll never know for sure. Still, the lame excuse for his quick disappearance is more than a little ham-fisted. That's what happens when Republicans bash Hollywood all the time; when it turns out they need some of that special public image magic, nobody will return their calls.
  • I'm not the only one rolling my eyes about Foley's rehab con game. The latest Eugene Robinson column at WaPo covers that and much more. I love the Oliver Cromwell quote at the end.
  • More pieces about the scandal, from the SF Chronicle, WaPo, and BBC News.
  • The IHT notes that the worst thing possible has already befallen the R's: They've strayed off-message. Here's a telling bit:
    Added Tony Fabrizio, another Republican consultant: "It's almost like the perfect storm forming against us."

    I'm amused by the attitude there: Politics are sorta like the weather, and it's certainly not your fault when things don't go your way. I.e., the public doesn't see things your way. There's no way that objective reality could have anything to do with that, of course.
  • Let me toss in at least one tinfoil hat item, since it's my blog and so forth. The timing sure is interesting, and the Foley thing sure did a great job knocking Bob Woodward off the front page. I think it's fair to assume Karl Rove's loyalties are to Leader, Party, and Fatherland, in that order. Just maybe, sometimes he has to throw an unreliable Party member to the wolves in order to protect the Decider.
  • The wingnut-o-verse is trying on various talking points to see if they look flattering. My favorite so far is this piece from some outfit called "Real Clear Politics", which explains that the real scandal here is that some mystery blogger broke the story. The fact that the Republican Party had at least one child molester in a high leadership position is, apparently, a super-hush-hush state secret, right down there with warrantless wiretaps and CIA torture camps. And if you think I sound cynical right now, just go read this piece. It comes right out and says the R's need to dream up a counterstory to keep the fundie rank-n-file in line. Oh, and it dwells obsessively on the gay angle. Yes, Gerry Studds and Barney Frank are gay. Yes, both of them. Film at 11.
  • I realize that not all Republicans are perverts, at least not provably so, and for those who aren't, I feel their pain, a little. Now maybe they'll understand what the whole Monica thing felt like. Or less charitably, I'll just remind 'em that turnabout is fair play.
  • As an aside: Oh, I feel so bad for poor ole George Allen, whose own political circus has just fallen off the radar (to mix a couple of metaphors badly).
  • I haven't seen anyone focus on the power angle yet, the fact that it would be extremely hard to have a remotely fair or equal relationship between a congressman and a page, even if the page was a legal adult. The case is an egregious abuse of power, and an example of the sort of thing members of Congress expect to be able to get away with. They seem to think one of the top perks of power is the right to abuse people who can't fight back, for one's own gratification. The closest I've seen to a remark about this is a line in this LA Times story:

    Like most of those willing to discuss Foley, the young man asked not to be identified by name because of concern that speaking openly could harm his career.

    So the guy's resigned in disgrace and become a national scandal, and people still have to be afraid to speak out? That sure smells like a power imbalance to me. WIth the occasional nasty exception, the private sector hasn't tolerated this sort of behavior for about 20 years now, because private employers can expect to be sued over it.
  • Wouldn't it be awful if Foley was just the tip of the iceberg, and it turns out there's a whole massive child sex ring operating in the halls of Congress? I mean, I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that, but nothing, nothing would surprise me at this point. The rush to cover up the case could just be the beltway mentality in action, where nothing matters except raw power, or it could be something more sinister. IAnd I've got to say that Hastert clown has always given me the creeps -- and he was a high school math teacher at one point...

Updated: A few more bits of Foleyage that caught my eye today:

  • An account about someone whose daughter had dinner with Foley. Seems he'd invited several male pages for dinner, and they'd brought a few female pages along sort of as chaperones.
  • BlueOregon relates the Foley scandal to the larger "culture of corruption" meme, with emphasis on some of our local Rethuglican malefactors.
  • A Foley piece at Whiskey Bar.
  • And last but not least, the immortal Jon Swift explains why Foleygate will really be a total disaster for the Democrats.


Anonymous said...

Our children are our greatest treasures and you have scumbags like Foley-and those that hide his kinky crimes-leading our nation into the bowels of hell. How can they justify their actions---greed & power versus morality & goodness---time for a major shake-up & ship out! Is it true that the best politician is most likely the best liar? On a panel to protect the rights of children--unreal--Foley the proverbial Fox in the henhouse!

Alex said...

Are you serious? Why dont we focus on torture issues and other crap like that? First of torture is a great way of getting information. Second, this story of Mark Foley...fuckin disgusting. MaF54? are you kidding me? the old man has an instant messenger and messages young people. Disgusting and waht makes it worse is that hes a congressman which is....INTOLERABLE. How the hell can a congressman be a fuckin pervert? This should be the main focus a congressman messaging a girl dirty ass shit. GROSS. The guy should be hanged. But if he goes to jail....i feel sorry for his Anus. haha

atul666 said...

alex: I agree with you about Foley. And as for the torture thing, even if you feel it's justified, surely you have to agree the issue is important, am I right?