The Washington Post has an extensive front page piece on Predatorgate today. It’s pretty lurid (within the bounds of what a newpaper can publish, anyway), and seems to paint a picture of a situation that everyone knew about, but was afraid to deal with. The incidents described in the article are more [...]
Commentary By: Richard Blair
The Washington Post has an extensive front page piece on Predatorgate today. It’s pretty lurid (within the bounds of what a newpaper can publish, anyway), and seems to paint a picture of a situation that everyone knew about, but was afraid to deal with. The incidents described in the article are more evidence that any protestations by the House GOP leadership that they didn’t know what was going on is specious at face value:
…The messages were innocent at first. But after the young man moved home, he recalled, Foley started asking about “my roommates, if I ever saw them naked.” Within months, the congressman was dangling a job offer, “because I was a hot boy,” he said. Two years later, when he contacted Foley for advice on D.C. hotels, the congressman wrote back: “You could always stay at my place. I’m always here, I’m always lonely, and I’m always up for oral sex.”
The WaPo article goes on to describe a very curious incident that took place at a Washington area eatery:
One evening early in the spring of 2000, a half-dozen pages – three girls and three boys – went to supper at Hawk –n’ Dove, a Capitol Hill pub. One boy had mentioned to Foley that they would be there, but no one expected that a congressman would show up.
Congressional pages rushed to shake President Bush’s hand after the State of the Union in 2004. Pages, high school juniors who are at least 16 years old, spend a year living, working and going to school on Capitol Hill.
Between House votes that night, Foley walked in. “It was the craziest thing. He ate wings off everybody’s plate,” recalled Rebecca Hoffman, a Democratic page who was there. He shot billiards with them, another page recalled.
“We were just absolutely shocked,” said Hoffman…
It’s been rehashed time and time again since Predatorgate struck – but this kind of display by a 40+ year old man, regardless of whether or not he’s a member of congress, is just plain creepy. Alarm bells had to have been ringing everywhere. And as the bells were indeed ringing, it appears that no one in the GOP House leadership bothered to pay attention:
However, Frattali and former pages said the rules were looser when members of Congress were involved.
And the program’s staff, even if they had known of a problem involving Foley or any other member, could not have simply invoked their zero-tolerance policy.
“One is sort of a page transgression,” Frattali said. “One is a member transgression. You can’t put a member on a plane and send him home.”
No? When activities such as those that Foley was engaged in clearly cross the line of what is proper interaction between a 40+ year old man and adolescents (regardless of gender), not only is censure warranted, but so is an investigation by those with the power to do so. The activities (online and offline) of Mark Foley, 40+ year old man, were never investigated because of the GOP leadership’s desire to hold power at any cost. Like avoiding the crazy uncle in the attic, people like Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay and Tom Reynolds and Jon Boehner chose to look the other way and ignore the problem, in hopes that it would go away and/or not blow up in their faces.
As a postscript to the WaPo article, I also ran into an article yesterday evening from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice that serves as an excellent recap of Predatorgate, and the myths and media obsfucation surrounding the scandal.
Predatorgate isn’t going away anytime soon. Not surprisingly, the House Ethics Committee is unlikely to issue a report before the upcoming midterm elections, however:
Despite an uncharacteristic spurt of activity, the House ethics committee is unlikely to complete its investigation of the Mark Foley page scandal before the election, but it may issue an interim report on Foley’s activities and how the GOP leadership responded to warnings, according to sources.
My guess? If an interim report does in fact come out, it’ll hit the news cycle late in the afternoon on Friday before the election.