Kinsley on Foley

My cute little house looked a lot better before my meager possessions were strewn aimlessly across every flat surface. It didn’t help that this was an unusually busy week at work. I did, however, manage to catch this spot-on essay from Michael Kinsley, at Slate. He writes:

Here in Washington, we’re all competing to see who can be more po-faced about Mark Foley and the congressional pages. Who can deplore Foley’s behavior the most? Democrats, sensing a deeply wounded Republican Party, are going in for the kill. It’s the final evidence that the GOP is terminally corrupt: A congressman was cyber-molesting teenage boys, and his party leaders evidently didn’t even care. Republicans answer: Hey, we invented child molesting! As an issue, that is. We own family values, and we’re not about to let the party of Monica Lewinsky* and Heather Has Two Mommies outflank us on the sexual morality front. And then there are gay voices, eager to remind people that being gay and molesting children are two different things, which, of course, they are. But just to make the point clear, gays want everyone to know that they defer to no one in their distaste for Foley’s behavior.

So, everyone claims to be terribly distressed. We glare at each other, looking as grim as possible, and the first one to break into a grin or a smirk or a snort loses. Stop it! It’s not funny! But then, who are all the people watching Letterman and Leno, Stewart and Colbert, and laughing–laughing!–at Mark Foley’s shenanigans? Who are the people cracking jokes on the Internet? They are so distressed that they can’t stop giggling, and they find the whole subject so distasteful that they can’t get enough of it. This is not a traditional case of politicians’ hypocrisy. This is politicians accommodating the hypocrisy of voters.


One other part caught my eye. Kinsley is discussing the case of Gerry Studds, the former Democratic congressman who had a sexual affair with a congressional page. He was censured for this back in 1983. Kinsley writes:

The Studds case came paired with that of Republican congressman Dan Crane, who had an affair with a female page. In a mutual disarmament agreement, both miscreants were “censured,” which was actually a ratchet up from “reprimanded,” or “scolded,” or “tickled,” or some other term recommended by an outside committee. Speaker Dennis Hastert says that if Mark Foley hadn’t resigned immediately, he would have been bounced. Maybe. But Crane, like Studds, was renominated by his party in the 1984 election. That would be the Republican Party. (Unlike Studds, Crane lost.)

Here’s why I find this interesting. About five minutes after the Foley scandal broke, braying right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity were fulminating about Gerry Studds. On The Daily Show that night, Jon Stewart commented it was as if he had the Encyclopedia of Congressional Sodomy at his fingertips. Virtually every right-wing pundit that turned up on cable or on radio was talking about Gerry Studds.

But prior to reading Kinsley’s column, I had never heard of Dan Crane.

Where were the left-wing pundits ready to bring up Crane every time the right-wingers brought up Studds? Why did the hapless, pseudo-liberal talking heads you see on cable allow the issue to become Democratic hypocrisy rather than Republican willingness to ignore Foley’s conduct? Why were the left-wing pundits so unprepared?

I shouldn’t be surprised. But for some reason I am.

Comments

  1. #1 dogmeatIB
    October 27, 2006

    Because the “liberal media” is a farce. During the 90′s they began to bend over backwards to be “neutral/moderate,” giving bogus claims like Bush’s tax equal air time and standing as Gore’s legitimate financial plan. Then (perhaps 30 seconds after that) they turned on Gore, making up thousands of stories about him, effectively handing us this moron dubya. Since then they’ve become more and more corrupt, barely pretending to cover issues such as this, and completely failing to expose the lies of this administration. The truly pathetic thing is, the dupes believe that there is a “liberal media bias” which gives them a perfect catch-22 situation:

    If the “liberal” media reports something negative about a conservative/Republican figure, it’s just the bias.

    If, on the other hand they say something positive about a conservative/Republican figure, “they finally got something right.

    Let’s them ignore everything and anything negative about the GOP and embrace the few positives that do come out.

  2. #2 gary
    October 27, 2006

    You are not really equipped to understand politics. You are much too intelligent and insightful. :)

  3. #3 Bill
    October 28, 2006

    The left-wing pundits probably didn’t want to be reminded that their President, you know, the guy before GW, also engaged in similar shenanigans and a similar attempted cover-up (except that he actually “did the deed”). Sex scandals and attempted (or successful) cover-ups are bi-partisan.

  4. #4 SLC
    October 28, 2006

    Re Bill

    At least it was girls!

  5. #5 Chris Grant
    October 28, 2006

    Where were the left-wing pundits ready to bring up Crane every time the right-wingers brought up Studds?

    When they’ve got Foley to hammer on, why would liberals want to bring up old news like Crane?

  6. #6 Bill
    October 29, 2006

    SLC: I know! But frankly, having seen the girl, I don’t find his taste necessarily any better. :-)

  7. #7 SLC
    October 29, 2006

    Re re Bill

    In fairness, it should also be pointed out that Monica was over the age of consent, unlike the young men Foley was hitting on.

  8. #8 Bill
    October 29, 2006

    Then in fairness it should also be pointed out that there was no “act” to consent to in Foley’s case. Consent is irrelevant to the comparison.

  9. #9 SLC
    October 30, 2006

    Re re re Bill

    Excuse me but the investigation of Foley is still ongoing. There are allegations there that Foley, in fact, had sexual relationships with one or more of the pages when they were still underage. I suggest that one not jump to conclusions until the investigation is completed.

  10. #10 Lettuce
    October 30, 2006

    I don’t knnow, they were discussing Dan Crane everywhere I looked, you apparently looked in the wrong places.

    Crane didn’t get re-elected because his CD got merged with another Congressman’s CD and the other guy, Paul Simom, beat him.

    Re: Bill…

    Regardless of the physicality of the act, the may indeed (almost vertainly was) a law violated here, in Foley’s case.

    In Clinton’s, not so much.

  11. #11 Chris Bell
    October 30, 2006

    Would it make you feel better if the left stooped as low as the right?

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