Yesterday, Mark Foley the Republican Representative from Florida resigned from Congress. He had been caught sending dirty email messages to an underage Congressional page. One of the texts went like this:
"What are ya wearing?" - Republican Congressional Representative Mark Foley
"Tshirts and shorts." - Teenage boy
"Love to slip them off of you." - Republican Congressional Representative Mark Foley
Here's some things about Mark Foley. He had led Congressional efforts to protect children. He started a restaurant when he was only 20 years old. He was named a deputy whip by disgraced Republican Congressman Tom DeLay. He was a frequent guest on Bill O'Reilly. His name will still be on the ballot representing Republicans in the election this November.
What's illuminating here is not that a pedophile held Congressional office. That's just sad and awful, especially for the children he took advantage of and exploited. What's illuminating is the Congressman's behavior. Sending text messages and emails? As if he could never be caught; as if he was invulnerable. And it's exactly the kind of arrogance and poor judgement that has come to dominate the Republican Party. Like Bob Ney and Duke Cunningham who brazenly accepted bribes and illegal campaign contributions. Same with Tom DeLay. Worse, like George Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, tirelessly insisting we're winning, things are getting better in Iraq, when anybody can see they're getting worse. As if the truth won't come out. It's a culture of corruption that believes it can never get caught.
The Republican Party (which turns out to have known about Foley's indiscretions for months) has become the nexus for bad judgement, criminality, hubris, and lies. Mark Foley got caught not because he's a pedophile, but because he's a dumb pedophile. Cunningham and Ney are doing jail time not because they took bribes but because they were blatant, too sure of themselves. It's the same kind of thinking that has turned everything else in this administration so bad.
Mark Foley is a sad, sick individual and I'm not capable of feeling sympathy for those that prey on the young so I won't pretend to. Frankly, I know too many people that have never recovered after becoming victims to people like Mr. Foley. But beyond all of that is his ignorance, the fact that he would leave a paper trail straight to his congressional office- he is also a symbol of everything wrong with a Republican Party that has rotted from within.