I haven't blogged in a while. The cable went out on Thursday, and for some reason I was incredibly tired for most of the weekend. I thought of writing this on Thursday, when it was more relevant. Instead, I'm writing this on the day North Korea tests a nuclear bomb. Let's see, congressman sending inappropriate e-mails to underage pages, unstable regime with nukes... I guess we'll see which one the media is still talking about next week.
The first page mentioned in the Foley scandal is from Monroe. The local congressman, Rodney Alexander, was the one who heard about Foley's e-mails to the page. He informed Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's staff. They informed Rep. John Shimkus, chairman of the House Page Board. According to Alana, Alexander's office fielded 100 calls from the media on Thursday. Alexander is the only politician in this scandal looking the least bit positive. When he found out about the initial e-mails he contacted the page's parents. The parents decided not to pursue the matter, though no one knew about the instant messages at that point.
I'm of two minds on Representative Alexander. I think he did the right thing in this case. The page's parents said he was "above reproach". When we were waiting to hear about my application to the USCIS for a visa, his staff did some checking into response times for us. That was back in 2003. In 2004 Alexander filed for re-election as a Democrat two days before the deadline. Minutes before the deadline, he refiled as a Republican. Apparently he was not happy with John Kerry being chosen as the Democrat's presidential candidate, and he had openly supported Bush. In Louisiana multiple candidates for the same party usually run, as Louisiana has a system of run off elections. The local Republican candidate was peeved at Alexander jumping ship. The Louisiana Federation of Teachers released a letter he had written to them slamming Republican policy as anti-labour. State and federal Democrats were incensed by him. He eventually had to give back money he had collected as a Democrat, and a Louisiana judge reopened filing and had him re-file. He got away with it, though, as he was re-elected. Since re-election his voting record has taken a sharp right turn. There are still those in this district that detest the way he switched parties. This recent scandal, though, shows him in a good light and probably guarantees his re-election next month.
Other politicians don't look so smurfy. There's Hastert, of course, and the question of whether or not he knew of the scandal. According to the Wikipedia article on the scandal, he dropped the ball and probably should resign. At the same time, the more strident Democrats look like they are grabbing onto this mess because they don't have a policy of their own.
A couple of Republicans have gone so far as to blame the Democrats! One (I forget who he was) implied that Foley was a Republican in name only, pointing out that his voting record wasn't as conservative as it could be. Woah! Sorry, foul! The Republicans were happy to point to Foley as a gay congressman in order to seem "enclusive". They don't get to make him look like a Democrat now that he's done something wrong. Hastert blamed the Democrats for informing the media about the scandal. He said, "Democrats have ... put this thing forward to try to block us" and "there are some people that try to tear [Republicans] down. We are the insulation to protect this country, and if they get to me it looks like they could affect our election as well." Then there's Katherine Harris of the 2000 election fame. She went as far as to suggest Republicans knew nothing of the scandal, that it was the Democrats who knew and didn't say anything. "The media would be quite disingenuous, trying to make it a partisan issue. If anything, the Republicans didn't know about these issues, and we're going to be very anxious to see who in the media or on the other side of the aisle knew about it and kept this from the public interest, because our children were at stake." I wonder what colour the sky is in her world...
Sean Hannity on FOX was quite amusing in his take on the scandal. (Note: I only saw Hannity via The Daily Show; I didn't want anyone to think I actually watch FOX News.) He pointed out that a Democrat was the subject of a scandal involving sex with a page. This happened in 1983. I'm not sure if he was trying to suggest Democrats "started it" or if he was just trying to deflect attention. He then pointed out that Clinton had sex with a 19 year old intern, implying it was just about as bad. Except, Monica was 22 (or possibly 23) and not 19. Beside being 6 (or 7) years older than the page, she was an adult and legally able to consent.
This should not be about politics. It should be about a single man's immoral — perhaps criminal — acts. The Republicans should have taken the allegations seriously and investigated, and sanctioned, Foley. And it should have been done out in the open. Unfortunately, they didn't do that and Foley preyed on underage teens. I doubt the Republicans have learned their lesson, as they are circling the wagons and blaming the Democrats. Sadly, I don't for a moment think the Democrats would have handled it any different...
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