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Mark Foley: A sad reflection of modern America

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
October 5, 2006


Most would agree Mark Foley, the disgraced congressman from Florida is an embarrassment; to himself, his constituents, to Floridians, Congress, the Republican party, Republicans, the Catholic Church and the gay community.

More than an embarrassment, the Foley affair is an example of how far we have strayed from the ideal of ethical governance. As if Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Tom Delay, and the administration of George W. Bush weren't enough corruption to deal with, Mark Foley's page fetish has exposed more than a self-loathing gay Republican.

Foleygate has revealed the ugly side of partisan protectionism.

A middle-aged congressman, sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to underage males, showing up drunk at their dorm, asking for photos isn't salacious enough, that the Republican establishment appointed a suspected pedophile to serve as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children is not only irresponsible, it could easily be seen as complicity.

Mark Foley resigned only after being confronted by ABC news with the sexually charged correspondences with congressional pages.

Republican or Democrat, gay or straight,this sort of behavior is not acceptable. As the news unfolded, and it became clear the Republican leadership was keeping Foley's dirty little secret, finger pointing reveled a network of elected officials who place partisan politics over moral responsibility.

The biggest loser in these dirty doings is Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R) Illinois.

A sad and lurid tale of privileged perversion, the Foley scandal is a stain on the blue dress of Dennis Hastert's political legacy. A six term congressional pedophile is to hard to hide and even harder to explain away. Blaming the liberal media for breaking the news certainly didn't help Hastert's case.

As Speaker of the House, Hastert has demonstrated a startling lack of sensitivity. Implicating himself with denials, deflections and claims of media bias, Hastert is proving unfit for a leadership position.

But before anyone thinks that this story is about one pedophile, and an incompetent congressional cover-up, allow me to suggest it about so much more.

Foley's lawyer brought up alcoholism as explanation, if not an excuse. The specter of childhood molestation at the hands of a Catholic priest was brought to light with Foley's sexual orientation. It's all so tawdry, and just so sad.

Beyond the tabloid titillation of a dirty old man getting busted, the Mark Foley story is also about homophobia and a sexually repressed nation struggling to contain its culturally-imposed demons.

Mark Foley is proof of how far we haven't come as a nation.

Watching the media babble on cable and the networks, I was amazed at the vocabulary being used to pass judgment along with the blame. Disgusting, revolting, sick, twisted and creepy were all used to describe the behavior of the recently resigned congressman, all of which describe the congressional collusion that allowed representative Foley to remain as a threat to kids, himself and common decency.

Also complicit are members of the gay community who knew Representative Foley was a chicken hawk preying on congressional pages. Men doing boys went out of fashion centuries ago. Where outing gay public officials may be an ethical dilemma, the value of outing pedophiles is not.

To say Foley is an abomination, although true on many levels, still misses the point. Foley maybe guilty of inappropriate behavior, which may or may not be criminal, but he is hardly alone in his moral failings. Those that covered for Foley's blatant indiscretions to protect the Republican majority in congress should follow Foley's lead and resign from office. Out of respect for the office they have disgraced by their actions and inaction.

Personally I'm tired of the cavalcade of corruption passing itself off as federal government. If Americans really wanted to send a message they would boycott the Republican and Democratic party's in favor political ideologies long locked out of the system. Greens and Libertarians come to mind.

Bribes or boys, Congress is out of control and we the people; gay, straight, breeders and non-breeders, young and old, must reclaim government for the people from the type of people interested only in servicing their base desires.

Tom Foley will not be the last episode of Congressmen gone wild. With blood in the water, it will only get uglier from here.

The feeding frenzy has only just begun.

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