Saturday, September 30, 2006

Scandal In Congress, Again

The readers should be warned that every once in awhile this blog becomes partisan and biased. The following post is one such biased effort.

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., abruptly resigned from Congress on Friday in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former teenage male page. His departure sent Republicans scrambling for a replacement candidate less than six weeks before midterm elections in which Democrats are making a strong bid to gain control of the House. He had been considered a shoo-in for a new term. The resignation further complicates the political landscape for Republicans, who are fighting to retain control of Congress. Democrats need to win a net of 15 Republican seats to regain the power they lost in 1994. Foley's aides initially blamed Democratic rival Tim Mahoney, a former Republican, and Democrats with attempting to smear the congressman before the election. This might be the typical reaction in an election race but then irony sets in.

What is ironic is that Foley in addition to being a member of the Republican leadership, serving as a deputy whip also and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee; Foley was the chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect. Such inappropriateness is not new to Congress that has seen affairs over the last decade claim the political lives of many members. In 1983, the House censured two lawmakers - Daniel Crane of Illinois and Gerry Studds of Massachusetts - for having improper relationships with pages.

In 2003, Foley faced questions about his sexual orientation as he prepared to run for Sen. Bob Graham's seat. At a news conference in May of that year, he said he would not comment on rumors he was gay. He later decided not to seek the Senate seat to care for his parents.
Republican’s will try to forget him as soon as possible by distancing the Party and senior leadership from him. In fact, Florida Republicans plan to meet as soon as Monday to name a replacement in Foley's district, an area around Palm Beach County that President Bush won with 55 percent in 2004 and is now in play for November. Though Florida ballots have already been printed with Foley's name and cannot be changed, any votes for Foley will count toward the party's choice. Conservatives will most likely use Foley as a whipping boy, an attempt to use his alleged sexual orientation for political means. This would be wrong, and in itself inappropriate, but the attempt will be made.

Therefore, a disclaimer, of sorts, should be made known. If Mark Foley is gay, his actions do not represent homosexuals who are fighting for social and legal recognition. Mr. Foley’s actions shame heterosexuals too, for his actions perpetrate a fraud upon those who support gays and struggle for them. More importantly, however, Mr. Foley has been disloyal to the institution he was elected to. Congress has had, at times, a sordid history with members’ actions. Mr. Foley’s has now been added to that list, but the idea of representative government, child advocacy and the larger issue of being a responsible person have been betrayed.

1 comment:

deke said...

Bravo for a fair and balanced review of the Foley matter. The hypocrisy from the Republicans on this matter is too rich not to comment on, but as you mention the damage Foley did to Congress and the larger social movement of gay rights can't be overlooked.