Sunday, October 08, 2006


On the page scandal:

I'm not a "typical right-wing pedophile apologist" excusing Foley. But, in case you haven't noticed, he's gone. He quit quicker than his instant message. And, true, he's since done the usual contemptible redemption shtick, announcing he's going into alcohol rehab, etc., when the reality is he'd be a better man if he drank more and IMed teens about the size of their wedding tackle less. And yes, he'll get a book deal, just like New Jersey's revolting ex-governor. But no one will buy the book -- and besides, what do you want? When a member of the House of Lords went abroad after a homosexual scandal, King George V is said to have remarked, "Good God, I thought fellows like that shot themselves." It may, indeed, be a less revolting spectacle for a chap to take a tumbler of whiskey and a loaded revolver into his study than to go on "Oprah" and bore on about his personal demons, abusive father, etc., etc. But we live in different times. Foley's history; he's the first footnote in history to a page in history. So the only question now is whether there is any larger issue here worth spending 10 minutes on.

And the answer to that is obvious. This was a honey trap (as they used to say in the Cold War) designed to leverage one peripheral figure's squalid fantasies into political opportunity. It's as predictable as the leaves falling from the trees, except that it only occurs every other autumn. Still, I take my hat off to the media and Democratic Party. Indeed, in the spirit of Bill Clinton, I take my pants off to them. It is a remarkable achievement to have transformed, in little more than a week, the GOP into the Catholic Diocese of Boston with Speaker Hastert as Cardinal Law and the page program as the massed ranks of 7-year-old altar boys. What an awesome force the Dems would be if only the ruthless skill and cunning that went into this operation could be applied to, say, national security.

But I very much doubt, despite the expertise with which the sheep have been rounded up and set baa-ing, that Showtime at the Foley Bergere will pay off in November. There are many legitimate reasons for electors to toss out the Republican Congress, but the notion that they're a hotbed of gay pedophile enablers is not one of them. Had Foley dug in and attempted to cling on, his GOP colleagues would have been all over TV deploring his behavior, calling on him to step down, expressing outrage, etc. After two or three days, a few lefties might even have piped up to assail the Republican theocrat sexual McCarthyites tormenting the poor chap. Had he actually had sex with congressional pages, affronted gay groups would have pointed out this was perfectly legal in the relevant jurisdictions and would have complained ferociously about the stigmatizing of gay relationships and Democrats would have declared there should be places for all at the American table, especially had Foley done a Jim McGreevey and announced that "my truth is I am a gay American." A few quirks of timing and the parties' respective roles might have been entirely reversed. Scandalwise, the Republicans always play the submissive masochists but the Dems are bi-swingers, happy to flay the GOP as either (a) uptight prudes or (b) pedophile enablers, according to what suits. What would have been consistent in both narratives is the assumption by the Democrats, the media and the Gay Page Tip-Line end of the Republican Party is that the electorate is stupid. In the sense that there's any "child abuse" going on here, the American people are being treated like children and abused by the politico-media class.

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