Ooooo! I’m DYIN’!
By: Erik Rush
The title line is from the vintage Bugs Bunny cartoons; it’s something Bugs would shriek when the irony just got to be too much.
Whether or not Democrat operatives were involved in the timing of the release of information concerning former Florida Representative Mark Foley’s indiscretions is hardly germane to the issue of Foley’s behavior being imprudent, odious and disgusting. And a press feeding frenzy – considering who most of the American press are politically – was certainly to be expected.
Democrats who’ve been uncovered acting similarly – or worse – get lighter and more understanding treatment in the press because their cultural views are more in keeping with those of the press and their constituency.
We know all of this. We know that the Nancy Pelosi wing of the House will paint a picture of Roman orgies involving congressional pages and everyone from Foley to House Speaker Dennis Hastert to the President himself.
We all know this – but why doesn’t the Republican leadership?
Granted that the pre-midterm election timing of all this is unfortunate, what disheartens me is the current behavior of the Republican leadership in the wake of these revelations. Whether or not their knowledge of aspects of Foley’s behavior or non-disclosure of same is found to rise to the level of criminality, their panic is evident – and panic breeds carelessness.
While I’m quite sure they believe they’re making cautious and sensible decisions and statements, they – as well as Foley – have inexplicably fallen into a stock pop culture damage control mode: Foley whisks himself into the hospital like Michael Jackson. No one on the Republican side of the aisle knew anything other than Foley’s proclivity for being “overly friendly” with the male pages. While Democrat leaders (as expected) call for a wholesale purge of Republican leadership, no one in the GOP
(including the President) seems quite sure of how far they want to go in support of anyone who might have been involved, most notably House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
They remind me of the aging crack whore being interviewed on the local news when her son (with a jacket as thick as the 9/11 Commission Report) is apprehended red-handed for a particularly heinous murder. There she sways, bawling before the cameras, claiming “My baby never hurt nobody.”
And sadly, the Republican public relations machine is appearing every bit as credible.
Congressional pages are now being interviewed. The questions of who knew what and when, and did they do enough or cover it up are the questions of the hour. Did the Republican leadership know more than has been revealed to date, but didn’t want to out Foley and be seen as anti-gay? Or was it simply to save the seat and maintain their slim margin in the House?
House Speaker Dennis Hastert “really ought not be a sacrificial lamb,” as former Secretary of State James Baker III said on Friday October 6 – but if Hastert’s knowledge of Foley’s behavior or non-disclosure of same is found to rise to the level of a criminal act, he should be fed to the wolves with all due haste, as should everyone with similar culpability.
Astute observers see the Republican base getting increasingly disgusted with this Congress and the current administration on grounds ranging from spinelessness relative to the border dispute, the Terror War, Iran, North Korea and cultural issues. This is but one more disappointment to add, as well as being one for the books. “Well, he may be a scoundrel, but he’s our scoundrel,” doesn’t play well to the Republican base, as it did to Bill Clinton’s.
I recently replied from one of my readers’ email on the subject: “If anyone saves the Republicans in November, it’s going to be the swing voters who realize that despite their shortcomings, in the long run the Republicans will handle our national security issues much more effectively and successfully than will the Democrats – particularly considering the character of the latter’s leadership at present.”
So Foley checks into rehab, admitting (through his legal mouthpiece) that he’s a “gay American.” Would that someone had the gumption to say: “No way, pal. If you are indeed a drunk, you’re going to tough it out in a private detox for a week, tops. Then you’re going to some AA meetings. Then you’re going to spend some quality time with the FBI. No hiding out in some rehab for a month or more.
Now, apropos the “gay American” admission. Aside from it being a cheap time-buying dodge and a play for sympathy, it again raises the question of whether gay men do have a marked preference for young boys. This may indeed be true, but no one has yet conclusively proved it. In light of this, it is little more than a slap in the face to non-activist gay Americans who live otherwise mundane lives.
America can forgive much. Many people can, from experience, identify with a radio talk show host getting hooked on prescription painkillers, and even serious moral shortcomings from their elected officials. But when a man who holds one of the highest offices in the land solicits underage boys (perhaps for sex, we’re not entirely sure as yet), and who is a member of the party at the forefront of the Culture War, it is a dark day indeed – and not simply for those in the beleaguered Republican
Erik Rush is a New York-born Black columnist and author who writes a weekly column of political fare. He is also Associate Editor and Publisher for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. An archive containing links to his writing is at http://www.erikrush.com. His new book, “It’s the Devil, Stupid!” is available through most major outlets.