Former Republican congressman Mark Foley of Florida has used the words “revolting and unforgivable” in response to rumors that he is gay.
Being gay, however, isn’t either one of these things. What is revolting or unforgivable is being a gay congressman who uses his position of power in order to shore up his own closet door. And Foley, who has been “rumored” to be gay for over a decade, did exactly that when he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 (it should be noted, however, that aside from this vote Foley has a pretty darn good record on gay issues, which makes him seem even more schizophrenic). The Advocate outted him soon after the DOMA vote, but he continued to deny it.
But what is even more “revolting and unforgivable” is hitting on high schoolers when you’re a grown-up, regardless of your sexual orientation.
On Sept. 29, Foley up and quit Congress after sexually suggestive e-mail and cell phone messages were made pulic that Foley sent to male teen pages, high school students who work as messengers as part of a congressional education program. The messages included tidbits like, “Do I make you a little horny?” and “You in your boxers, too? … Well, strip down and get relaxed.” The FBI is currently investigating Florida and the Department of Law Enforcement is mulling criminal charges.
Not good. But also not surprising, contrary to what Republicans are claiming.
“Congressman Foley duped a lot of people … He deceived the good men and women in organizations around the country with whom he worked to strengthen child predator laws,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert told the Associated Press. “I have known him all the years he served in the House and he deceived me too.”
Bullshit. The fact that Foley was chasing after young pages didn’t seem to bother folks like Hastert so long as Foley supported their pet right-wing causes with his votes.
“It will be interesting,” posed New York Times columnist Paul Krugman Oct. 2, “to see how Dr. [James] Dobson, who declared of Bill Clinton that ‘no man has ever done more to debase the presidency,’ responds to the Foley scandal. Does the failure of Republican leaders to do anything about a sexual predator in their midst outrage him as much as a Democratic president’s consensual affair?”
Foley, by the way, voted in favor of Clinton’s impeachment, despite his claims that the private lives of public figures should kept private.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has called for a “full-scale investigation” by the attorney general to see if GOP leaders “knew there was a problem and ignored it to preserve a congressional seat this election year.”
Considering that the election is only a few weeks away, it looks like the GOP’s longstanding policy of divide and deceive is finally starting to work against them.