By R.J. Beaumia
I tried to dissuade myself from writing a column on the latest Republican scandal revolving around Mark Foley, basing my arguments on the story’s overkill in the gay media; alas, however, I find the whole situation breathtakingly irresistible.
If I may be so gay, I think it’s un cadeau des dieux. Per Dawn French, I don’t know whether to hop, skip, or jump; I think I’ll can-can!
With difficulty, I can resist Godiva chocolates and cute college guys at Macy’s who try to convince me that I’ll look great in a Speedo, but I couldn’t neglect this one.
The Foley story is that week in my early 20s when I went to New York, got to go to CBGBs and danced all night.
Mark Foley’s blunder is the blissful simplicity of a smart, sweet, cute boyfriend whose only desire is to come to your house on Saturday night for the beer-pizza-blowjob trifecta and then fall asleep in your arms.
If there were such a thing as Heaven, this would surely be a slice of it.
Most important, though, this is a watershed in modern politics because it exposes the Republican Party – and a big ol’ chunk of early 21st Century American culture – for what it is. What it is, folks, ain’t real nice and, while it may not seem like it now, it is the day of reckoning not just for one man, but for a nation that’s gone sour.
The Foley story is a steaming, rich blend of hubris, hypocrisy, opportunism, cronyism, paranoia, homophobia, decadence and the cult of childhood. It’s the ugly, inevitable result of nearly 30 years of the ascendancy of the Republican Party in public life, where winning elections at any cost is the only thing that matters.
As this column goes to press, we’ve yet to see just how deeply involved Dennis Hastert, and the rest of the GOP members of the House of Representatives, have gotten into a cover-up of Foley’s indiscretions over the last year. So far it looks like there are lots of gems hidden in the litter box.
Of course, I love the irony of having the man in charge of a Congressional caucus on adoption and child abuse issues going around in secret wearing the varsity jacket of his latest crush.
Foley was wrong on so many other counts, too. He violated the trust of parents who were proud to let their children be Congressional pages. He compromised the legitimacy of his office and sullied the honor bestowed by the calling of public service. He made the lives of millions of good, honest, taxpaying citizens miserable by buying into an ideology that compares them to animals and criminals because of their sexuality. And he did it to his own kind.
Yes, Mark Foley is a miserable shit. But I think the part of this story that’s most disturbing – and most telling about the Republican Party and its immorality – is the role of the parents of one of the former pages who received Foley’s amorous emails.
The young man worked for Representative Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican. According to the New York Times, when he told the Congressman about Foley’s advances, Alexander went to majority leader John Boehner, as well as to the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Thomas Reynolds, and Speaker Hastert.
Reynolds told the Times that when Alexander informed them, he said that the parents of the young man “didn’t want the matter pursued.”
Who, what, when, where and how aside, why didn’t the parents, if you’ll pardon me, get to the bottom of the matter? Did they not want to embarrass their son? Or, more likely, were they big GOP donors who didn’t want a sex scandal rocking a party going into a brutal midterm election?
Even if they didn’t want to put their son up to public scrutiny, the hypocrisy of supporting a group that has appointed itself the protector of all that is decent and Christian in the world while looking the other way as your own son is being offered a good Republican-administered tongue bath over the internet, is absolutely appalling and perfectly sums up what the GOP – and the United States today – are all about.
I do not condemn Mark Foley for being closeted; individual circumstances make coming out difficult for many of us. I’ll certainly incur the anger of many when I say that I’m not going to judge him for flirting with 16-year-olds. The age for sexual consent is 16 in many states and many countries, and I find it absurd to think that someone who can be entrusted in a public place with a hurtling, 4,000 pound mass of metal, plastic, and combustible fluids isn’t rational enough to navigate the position of his own zipper.
Did Foley have sex with young men who were considered underage in the state where said deed might have happened? Maybe, and if so, he broke the law and should be punished.
While that will get the fundies in an uproar and will embarrass Republicans (and possibly cost them some Congressional seats), thus making me quite mirthful, I reserve my anger for the stupidity of the American public with the grossly misplaced order of their priorities.
For all of the atrocious things that have occurred over the last six years – the unnecessary bloodshed, the pillaging of the treasury, the ruining of the economy, the disappearance of the middle class, the poisoning of the air and water, the wholesale repealing of basic civil rights, the egregious flaunting of lawlessness, the weakening of the judiciary, and the lies, lies, lies – all it took to stir up outrage at the GOP swine was a little too much attention paid to the bulge in a schoolboy’s pants.
This country needs to be ashamed.
All of those GOP apologists who didn’t seem to mind the Duke Cunningham scandal or couldn’t bother to find their way through the complex labyrinth of Jack Abramoff’s filthy deeds will right away understand the elegant starkness of the headline flashing in their minds: Dirty Pervert Foley Imperils Teen-age Pee-pee.
Mies van der Rohe couldn’t have rendered it more plainly.