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Oct 02, 2006

Minor Distinctions

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I was curious about this piece on the fallen Representative Mark Foley in Sunday's NYT Week In Review.

The media seems to be having an easy time publishing the sexually-oriented IM transcripts between Congressman Foley and a 16-year old male intern.  At the same time, however, I wonder just how comfortable the media is in more constructively dealing with what effectively involves child sexual abuse.

The subject of this giggly-toned piece is politicians who have self-destructed.  (Of course, silliness has always been a good cover for awkwardness and embarrassment.)  Up front, the article places Mr. Foley in what it calls its “Sex Scandal subcaucus," featuring:

Wilbur Mills (D-Tidal Basin), Gary Hart (D-Monkey Business), Bob Packwood (R-Senate Elevators) and, of course, Bill Clinton (D-Oval Office).

Reviewing the company, however, I don't see any members of "the caucus" who were guilty of having, or soliciting sex with a minor.  (If you're wondering, Monica Lewinsky was 22.)

This subcaucus, by the way, is a division of the “What On Earth Was He Thinking?” Caucus.  To somehow liken Mr. Foley's problems -- like the others, in this case -- to simple impulsivity or momentary loss of judgement, however, is irresponsible.  Sexual philandering, taken to the point where it ruins one's career, is evidence of a serious character defect.  The compulsion to engage in sexual contact with children is indicative of far more serious psychopathology.

(To be technical about it, the 16 year-old boy in this case is of the age of consent in Washington, D.C.  In a state like California, however, it's the age of the other party that determines criminality, and in Foley's case, it's not even close.)

It's only at the end of the piece that the writer identifies Foley's closer company.  Referring to the website, “Political Graveyard,” a comprehensive catalog of politicians notable for misconduct, four examples are noted (although not ascribed to "a caucus").  Of those four, three are Congressman who had sex with minors, two involving pages.

The accompanying image is also curious.  It's offers the most distant example out of the "subcaucus" (a black-and-white 1974 pic of Wilbur Mills with stripper Fanne Foxe).  Reinforcing the discomfort, the photo is a farcical one with Ms. Fox, also a subject of exploitation, seeming to be a joyful partner.

It's hard to see how the image bears much relation at all to the far more covert and far more ill Foley situation.  Perhaps the boy in the background, in Mills' shadow, somehow attracted the interest of the Times photo editor?

(image:  Bettmann/Corbis.  undated.  published October 1, 2006.


Thank you so much for this post. I noticed the same emphasis, trying to dilute what is a much more serious charge against Foley. It's all part of the denial game going on in Washington. And, where is the sympathy for the young people affected by Foley's behavior?

Congrats on the C&L link. We have lost the focus that when an adult gets sexually involved with an adolescent there can be emotional damage to that young person. A sixteen or seventeen year old, even if they are sexually active with people their own age, simply does not have the emotional inventory to handle the advances of a mature adult. Foley's behavior was completely irresponsible and reprehensible.

The fact that in addition he was a GOP piehole for "protection of children," an 84%er for the Christian Coalition's Congressional Scorecard, and a supporter of the Defense of Marriage act just makes him a pathetic hypocrite.

The entire point of the article was to make light of Foley's transgressions and begin the reaching for Democratic comparisons. Notice how they kick off their lists with Frank's parners transgressions...actions which weren't even commited by the congressperson in question. It appears, the sooner we can all laugh at America's pedophile congressman the sooner we can move on...and better for the NYT and the elite interests it supports. (C. Wright Mills "power elite" not Faux News "media elite")

Its the hiding, the secrecy, the life in the closet that causes these things. Im still waiting for the anti-gay blowback (no pun intended) on this one. Everyone is still in shock, but if you give it time Im sure it will come. In actuallity, it is the attitudes homophobes everywhere which lead to the Foley's of the world. If he lived in a world where he could express male/male desire with freedom he wouldnt have had to seek out inappropriate persons for his affection, persons whos trust he could abuse (givin his position) in an attempt to maintain secrecy. The true story here is the abuse of trust and power, not icky gay dudes.

Just remember that framing, bag readers, cuz that blowback is coming.

Here is my letter to the NYTimes:
"Thoughtless". “What On Earth Was He Thinking?”

These quotes, from his article, also describe MARK LEIBOVICH in his writing of Hitting a Self-Destruct Button published in the October 1, 2006 Week in Review by the New York Times.
I am horrified that a parallel between the Congressman Folly allegations and even the most sordid of affairs of the names: "Wilbur Mills (D-Tidal Basin), Gary Hart (D-Monkey Business), Bob Packwood (R-Senate Elevators) and, of course, Bill Clinton (D-Oval Office)," named by Leibovich, has been drawn. Outside of the titillating sex topic, they can not be more different. The only people worthy of being named in this piece are "Donald (Buz) Lukens, Republican of Ohio, Dan Crane, Republican of Illinois, and Gerry Studds, Democrat of Massachusetts", all scandals that involve similar behavior. While the scandals of all the other people named concern legal sex by adults with adult with consent, the Folly affair concerns illegal sex by an adult with a minor child who can not give consent. This Folly scandal is all about predatory behavior which is illegal! How dare the NY Times reduce the magnitude of this crime by linking it to these sordid, but legal scandals.
I demand that the NYT remove the article and print an apology for this defamation of those linked by name to Folly in this shoddy piece of pablum printed in "The Paper of Record".
I really can not believe that this was allowed to be printed!

The photo is the only part of the peice that tells the story. The boy in the shadows, the aid with dead eyes, who's been "overlooking" these things. And one asshole, convinced he can do no wrong with a female prop.

Point 1 (as in one, uno, of the very first importance): was the sex consensual? If yes, it's not really anybody's business except the family or lovers of the person involved. If no, it's not sex. It's a crime.

This means there's no comparison among the different sets of scandals listed. And, quite frankly, it's offensive that this essential issue isn't recognized.

Point 2: Minors, young teenagers, whatever you want to call them, are universally recognized as needing protection from the likes of Foley and not being in a position to really consent.

So, yes, obviously, Foley is a reprehensible pedophile who's also a hypocrite of staggering proportions. But don't lump crimes together with sex, because that just plays into the whole Republican script of "naughtiness" and "everyone has scandals."

Being a page or a worker in a Republican campaign is a stepping stone for these kids to careers later on. They can't report what happens because then they could lose out on a lucrative career later on.

So it's more than just one person. The Republican cover-up means the Republicans want the pages to live in fear of offending the people they are working for, and sending them the message that they must simply put up with abuse.

SUICIDE IS PAIN LESS: Bloody Day in Iraq Leaves 182 Dead

~40% of the people struggling to survive under AngloAmerican occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and JudeoAmerican occupied Palestine, are children.

Massacre of the Innocents : “According to Matthew, when the Magi (ie., "Three Wise Men") sought out the birth of Jesus, they first visited Herod the Great to ask if he knew the correct location. On hearing the Magi ask for He that is born King of the Jews, Herod, the Roman client-king in Judea, felt his throne was in jeopardy, and so ordered the slaughter of all male children...

...The theme of the "Massacre of the Innocents" has provided artists with opportunities to compose complicated depictions of massed bodies in violent action. Artists of the Renaissance took inspiration for their "Massacres" from Roman reliefs of the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, to the extent that they showed all the figures heroically nude... the famous novel The Fall by Albert Camus, the [Massacre of the Innocents] incident is argued by the main character to be the reason why Jesus chose to let himself be crucified : as He escaped the punishment intended for Him while many others died: He felt responsible, and died in guilt.”


Indeed, its a fascinating analogy you have offered.

Quixote: spot on. The rest of the discussion will be diversionary pap. Like, for example (NrkeyQueer was interested) Newt Gingrich claiming that to have handled this any other way would have aroused accusations of gay-bashing.

How does this story tie in to the three school shootings in the past week, or is that what MonsieurGonzo is (also) getting at?

Wait until the talking heads get the full spin going. Micheal Savage, giving his take of the situation, opined that pages were, after all, teenagers and sexually knowledgeable and Dr Savage felt that the teenager was playing Foley, knowing the game and the rules, and cynically using the sexual word play to seduce Foley.
I am writing to all sponsors of the Savage Nation asking them if they really support this type of "blame the victim" spin, disgusting as it is.

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