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Friday, July 11, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 10/8/2006

No excuse for abusing one's power

Granted, we Americans outsource everything, but even this?

"Mark Foley wants you to know he's a gay man," the disgraced ex-lawmaker's attorney announced to a bouquet of microphones.

Well, that's a first: assigning your lawyer to come out for you. And this, from someone in the Party of Personal Responsibility.

Then again, consider the declaration of embattled House Speaker Dennis Hastert: "I haven't done anything wrong."

Drop the word "wrong," and he's 100 percent right.

Like a stinky onion, the story of former Florida Congressman Mark Foley is many-layered.

As the week wound to a close, Mr. Foley kept adding to his personal misery inventory in a way that brought to mind former SNL funnyman Jon Lovitz ("Hey, I'm gay! Wait - I'm an alcoholic, too! Oh, and I was molested! Yeah, that's the ticket - by a clergyman, no less!")

Mr. Hastert, meanwhile, in the same Done-No-Wrong news conference, also declared that "the buck stops here" - even as congressional staffers continued last week stepping forward to say they'd tried to warn party leaders, and even as Mr. Hastert himself accused Democrats of scandal mongering just weeks before midterm elections.

(As if the Democrats could be so well-organized or have that kind of foresight .•.•.)

Still, the October Surprise that is Mark Foley has been most typically appreciated by the mainstream media for its colossal, finger-pointing implosion of the GOP leadership, and as a partisan power struggle, all with a side of prurience.

I'm certainly not the first to say it, but given the current climate it apparently cannot be said enough: Let us not confuse "gay" with "pederast."

When a middle-aged adult hits on underage people (or even very young adults), this is abuse of power - no more, no less.

Or do you think the recent spate of teachers hitting on opposite-sex high school students somehow represents heterosexuality?

Mark Foley would seem to be a dedicated "chicken hawk" - and by that, I do not mean the war-mongering variety, but the young-boy-loving kind.

(Maybe gay male subculture isn't that far removed from the mainstream, which reveals its reverence for and easy sexualization of youth 24/7.)

Interestingly, I bet if you asked women beyond their 20s and early 30s, many have memories allowing them empathy with congressional pages. Getting hit on - or simply flirted with - by men several decades older wouldn't be all that unfamiliar.

Neither would the reluctance to confront it straight on ("Excuse me, get your sweaty paw off my shoulder/knee/wherever NOW."). The fear of offending someone - someone more powerful - whose graces you may someday need too easily combines with a youthful unwillingness to suffer embarrassment by causing a "scene."

It's unclear whether Mark Foley ever hooked up with any of the pages. It's also unclear whether, if he did, any crime was committed.

But it's funny how the military's "don't' ask, don't tell" policy turns out to be a guiding principle of the Republicans. The same legislators quick to deny gays and lesbians the right to profess lifelong committment by marriage seemed only too willing to ignore the salacious and predatory behavior of one of their own.



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