Foley folly

Instant message exchange between Congressman Foley (Maf54) and a former page:

  • Maf54 (8:08:31 PM): get a ruler and measure it for me
  • Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:38 PM): ive already told you that
  • Maf54 (8:08:47 PM): tell me again
  • Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:49 PM): 7 and 1/2
  • Maf54 (8:09:04 PM): ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
  • Maf54 (8:09:08 PM): beautiful
  • Xxxxxxxxx (8:09:38 PM): lol
  • Maf54 (8:09:44 PM): thats a great size
  • Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:00 PM): thank you

How sweet it is!

You just couldn't make this stuff up. One month before the mid-term election, in which every member of the House is up for re-election, ABC News went public with incontrovertible evidence that Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) had exchanged sexually-explicit instant messages with a former House page. Within hours Foley had resigned and fled Washington into seclusion in Florida. But that's just the beginning.

Sexual scandal in Washington— ho, hum. But wait, there's more! It turns out that Foley was co-chairman of the House's Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and was the lead sponsor for several bills aimed at protecting minors. The self-proclaimed internet decency defender turns out to be a sexual cyber-predator himself. The fact that he is a Republican just sweetens the irony, for the Republicans have proclaimed themselves the guardians of family values and moral rectitude. Whooee!

As the plot thickened, it became more and more evident that House leadership had known about Foley and his predilection for hitting on male pages for weeks, months, years (take your pick of whom to believe). The Republicans immediately formed themselves into a circular firing squad and began shooting. At this point, it is starting to look like Speaker Dennis Hastert may be forced to resign over his handling / non-handling of the affair.

W rushed in to support Hastert. "I know Denny Hastert. I meet with him a lot. He is a father, teacher, coach who cares about the children of this country," Bush said. "I know that he wants all the facts to come out."

Oh, yeah! Hastert is doing a heckuva job.

Following a now-predictable pattern, Foley checked himself into rehab, claiming he had been under the influence of alcohol when he wrote the emails and instant messages. Demon rum! Next he sent his lawyer out to let us know that Foley had been molested by a clergyman in his youth, not that he was taking that as an excuse, mind you. Oh, and by the way, Foley is gay.

Deep breath

The cable "news" today has been all Foley all the time.

Everybody really needs to take a deep breath.

All the clap-trap about "protecting the children" needs to stop. Congressional pages are not children. At age 16 or so they can rightly be considered to have at least some mind of their own. In many other countries, the age of consent for sex is set quite low — in Italy, for example, it is 14; in Spain it is 13; and it is even lower elsewhere. In today's media environment, children are hardly naive. In the salacious excerpt quoted above, it is not at all clear that the page is an unwilling participant in the discussion.

So far, all the allegations have to do with former pages, not ones currently serving in Washington. There are no allegations — so far — that he actually had sex with them, beyond possibly cyber-sex.

Stop trying to change the subject: whether or not Foley was molested as a youth (by an unnamed clergyman of an unnamed faith) is immaterial. And being gay has nothing to do with being a sexual predator.

And sexual predator is exactly what Foley is. He has been using his position for sexual advantage. He's a scumbag.

Real problem

One of the real problems here is that people in the US are so hung up on sex, especially anything other than missionary-position sex between married male-female partners, one of each at a time. The other real problem is the fusion of Republican politics with right-wing Bible-thumping religion. In a better world, Foley would not have felt compelled to hide his sexuality in the closet and resort to getting his jollies over the internet.

Tuesday's Five-Word Newsflash said it all:

Item: Congressman Foley offers his resignation.

Comment: Time to turn the page.