Robert Schlesinger's a fine writer, but his piece here on Foley and Studds didn't clearly state the difference between the two cases. It left the impression - at least to me - they were somehow equivalent. (As most people know by now, the GOP has been desperately trying to restore its image by bringing up the Studds case -- see Schlesinger's piece for more background.)
The real difference can be expressed in 9 simple statements, based on what we've been told so far about both cases:
1. As far as we know Studds was not forcing his unwelcome attentions on a series of pages, one after the other.
2. No page went to the Democratic leadership asking for protection from Studds, only to be rebuffed and ignored.
3. The Democratic Party did not run on a platform of "righteousness" and anti-homosexuality, while behaving hypocritically in private.
4. The Democratic Speaker of the House did not make statements about the incident that were immediately revealed to be outright lies ... by fellow Democrats.
5. The Democrats did not then begin an orchestrated media campaign to blame the entire problem on ... the Republicans (or the young man, for that matter).
6. Democrats did not take to the airwaves with talking points that were transparent lies.
7. Pro-Democratic writers (there weren't any bloggers then, remember?) didn't violate the privacy of the young man involved and give his name out to the press. They didn't call the young man a "beast" or blame him for Studds' behavior, either. (Have you heard any Republican leaders criticize the bloggers who gave out the young victims' names?)
8. How many times does this need to be said? It's the cover-up, stupid.
9. The Democratic leadership did not protect a predator, conceal his wrongdoing, and allow him to continue his activities in secret.. The Republicans did.
Let me repeat that last point, because it's getting overlooked:
The Democratic leadership did not protect a predator, conceal his wrongdoing, or allow him to continue his activities in secret. The Republicans did.
Should any of these statements prove false, I'll be as ready as anyone to reprimand the Democratic leadership at the time of the Studds incident. Even that, as Schlesinger points out, wouldn't exculpate Hastert or the others - but it would indict the Democrats of that long-gone time. It's moot at this point, however, since no evidence I've seen suggests any of the above statements are wrong.
As for the idea that Studds showed "contempt" by turning his back on the House when the vote took place, the reality was mostly overlooked at the time, although one or two commentators mentioned it. It is tradition and protocol in Congress to turn one's back when being censured. Studds was actually behaving appropriately.
(Once, conservatives understood and respected tradition. Today's so-called "conservatives" are too lazy and ill-informed to bother.)
For those of you who believe I'm "convicting" Foley without a trial, get this: I've read the emails. He acknowledged writing them, and then he resigned. Is he guilty of a crime? That's for a court to say. But is he guilty of vile behavior? Yes. If you don't think so, let that be noted in the court of public opinion.
Some progressives have suggested there's hypocrisy here, too. Another reminder: this isn't about gay sex. It's about unwanted advances. The kids complained, nothing was done, secrets were kept - and Foley kept on harrassing these kids.
Did you catch that word - "harrass"? It's not just child predation: it's sexual harrassment.
And for those of you who believe that we should wait for the "Ethics Committee" to review Hastert's involvement, consider this:
1. The so-called "Ethics Committee" has been jury-rigged by corrupt Republican cronies to excuse virtually any GOP behavior.
2. The Republican Congress already stated explicitly in the Tom DeLay case that they're willing to allow somebody indicted for a felony to continue serving in Congress ... and to serve in a leadership role in the House. Is that who you would look to for justice?
3. Hastert has already lied publicly and been contradicted by fellow Republicans. Those lies alone should constitute grounds for resignation.
Lastly, a word or two about Bill Clinton:
1. The Democratic leadership expressed its outrage over his behavior. They did not knowingly protect him while he was doing it. Their sense of betrayal should have been a model for the Republicans to follow in this case. Their absence of outrage tells us all we need to know about their party's moral depravity.
2. Monica Lewinsky was an adult - and, by all accounts, sought out the attention she received. Mark Foley forced himself on the young people entrusted to the care of the House of Representatives.
Torture, violation of the Constitution, lies to start a war, widespread financial corruption ... but it took these actions, protecting a predator, to capture the zeitgeist. It encapsulates today's GOP in the blinding light of a single moment, like a lightning flash that reveals the stalker who's been standing outside your door.
Have a nice day.
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