Congressman Foley’s (R-FL) despicable emails and instant messages to Congressional pages and former Congressional pages is sickening. It is of course the height of irony that this man co-chaired the very committee that looks to protect missing and exploited children. Foley’s being gay is beside the point- most pedophiles are heterosexual.- this one just happened to be gay.
It was despicable that the Republicans attempted to paint this as a bunch of gay staffers protecting gay members- as if there is some sort of Congressional gay cabal. In all actuality- it was the Republican leadership that covered up this mess. Why? For fear of losing power – isn’t the answer obvious? Congressman Ray LaHood (R-IL) and others have been attempting to deflect the Republican leadership mess by putting the onus on the page program itself- calling to disband this program or completely overhaul it. Why? These young people did nothing wrong. This program is a unique opportunity for talented high school students to learn about the federal government from the inside out. It is a remarkable opportunity- and is one of those nuggets of opportunity that our often impenetrable government allows for the neophyte. The baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.
Congressman LaHood and others who call for the ending of the program are attempting to keep the fire off their party’s leadership. Speaker Hastert was a teacher and a coach we are told by the President and others in his corner. So what? Obviously Speaker Hastert is more of a Republican hack than a protector of the rights of vulnerable young people.
My goodness- President Clinton’s lie about Monica Lewinsky was enough for the Republicans to call for and get impeachment. But they cry foul and partisan politics when the Democrats dare question the moral authority of the Republican Congressional leadership. Where is the equity here? Do these lame (ideally lame duck) Republicans have such short term memory loss that they cannot remember the very arguments that they made in the Clinton – Lewinsky affair?
As horrible as Mark Foley’s actions are- it is unlikely that anything was done that was “illegal”. In theDistrict of Columbia the age of consent is 16 and that is the minimum age for a Congressional page. That is, of course, no excuse for the Congressman’s actions. I was particularly “creeped out” by the Congressman’s farewell to the pages where he talked about the winning of a lunch with him. The little boy excitement and animation, in retrospect to the revelations, is just too twisted for color TV.
But the Republicans have put party power ahead of the protection of the young people they are charged to protect during their time on the Hill. Clinton never did that. My statement to House Republicans is “Remember Clinton/ Lewinsky and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.