But first, an insightful socialist perspective on this same scandal . . .
Patrick Martin, writing for the World Socialist Web Site, notes that Foley’s recent resignation, “is a serious political blow to the Bush administration and its efforts to retain control of the House and Senate in the November 7 midterm election.”
Foley quit within hours of media reports of his sexually explicit e-mails and instant messages to teenage male pages and former pages at the House of Representatives. The scandal cuts across Republican efforts to use anti-gay bigotry and concerns over Internet pornography as key components of their drive to mobilize Christian fundamentalist elements. Republican campaign aides have admitted the demoralizing effect on their ‘base.’
As an exposure of the hypocrisy and cynicism of the Republican Party appeal to ‘family values,’ the Foley affair has few equals. Foley was the Republican co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, a group whose announced purpose included fighting against ‘online child sexual exploitation.’ President Bush hailed Foley and his colleagues as a ‘SWAT team for kids’ only two months ago—at a time when Foley’s conduct was widely known within the top leadership of the House Republicans.
At the same time, the enthusiasm with which congressional Democrats have seized upon the scandal stands in sharp contrast to their unwillingness to oppose the Bush administration and the Republicans on far more significant issues. The same Democrats who issue moralizing pronouncements against the verbal abuse of 17-year-old boys have no problem voting military appropriations so that the Bush administration can send 19-year-olds to their deaths in imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The Foley affair underscores the descent of both big business parties to the point where all issues of political substance are suppressed in favor of scandal-mongering and mudslinging. This process has debased political discourse in the United States and stultified public consciousness. At the same time, ever-larger sections of working people are becoming alienated from the entire political establishment.
After resigning from Congress on Friday, Foley checked himself into a rehab center and issued a statement that he had an alcohol problem. Late Tuesday afternoon, Foley’s attorney issued a statement on behalf of the ex-congressman, confirming that Foley was gay and revealing that he had been molested by a [Catholic] clergyman as a teenager. Foley had never had sex with an underage boy, his attorney said.
This account, which seems plausible, only underscores the element of political savagery in the response by congressmen of both parties to Foley’s evident psychological and emotional problems. Both parties react by calculating the advantages and disadvantages in their struggle over positions and political power, while seeking to outdo one another in denouncing their erstwhile ‘esteemed colleague.’
To read Patrick Martin’s article in its entirety, click here.
Elsewhere on the web, Baptized Pagan has highlighted two thoughtful responses to the scandal, recently published in the Boston Globe, one of which explores how the scandal highlights similarities between the Republican leadership and the Catholic hierarchy.
In an opinion piece entitled “The Gay Problem in the GOP”, David Link writes:
If [the Foley scandal] has a familiar ring, look in the Catholic Church for the bell. Republican leadership was acting like the Catholic hierarchy, which played shell games with men accused of sexually abusing children. And there's a good reason for the similarity. The inability to deal straightforwardly with gay people leads to other kinds of truth-avoidance when things go south. But that's what comes from not wanting to know something, and going out of your way to remain ignorant.
And then there’s this great letter-to-the editor of the Boston Globe from Christian Draz (author, incidentally, of a thought-provoking critique of Brokeback Mountain).
As a gay man living for more than two decades in Boston, I have known many gay men raised in strict Catholic homes, two of whom were molested by their priests. Not one of them grew up to be a closeted Republican who worked to criminalize his own behavior. Foley should have sought professional help, as many of my friends did, long before he mixed alcohol, his own apparent homophobia, congressional pages, and the Internet, and brought himself to this ignominious place. If he had taken personal responsibility for his mental health earlier, it would not be thrust upon him now by events he set in motion by his very failure to do so.
Of course, the Catholic hierarchy frowns upon “personal responsibility” on the part of gay people, as, for the vast majority of them, such responsibility entails the rejection of the deeply dysfunctional sexual theology championed by the Vatican.
Free thinking and personal responsibility are expected to be sacrificed on the Vatican-constructed altar of unquestioning obedience. Such denial and repression can only have destructive consequences – not dissimilar to those seen in the Mark Foley scandal.