October 3, 2006
Editor, Squeal Thyself
One of the hardest temptations for conservatives to resist is the mad desire to be so holier than thou, that they shoot themselves right in the halo.
Exhibit A: the Washington Times -- Tony Blankley, I presume -- just editorialized a demand that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL, 100%) resign his position, presumably for not being omniscient... along with, if we follow the logic:
- Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH, 100%), who knew about the innocuous e-mails but not about the smoking-gun IMs;
- Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY, 83%), who brought the matter up to Hastert's staff;
- Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL, 92%), who tried to resolve the problem by counseling Foley, telling him to stay away from the page whose picture he asked for and to be careful not to get "overfriendly" to any pages;
- Oh, and also "every Republican member of Congress," since according to the Washington Times, they are all "disgraced" by Mark Foley's twink hunt.
Here is editor Tony Blankley's prescription for how the GOP must immolate itself to atone for the weird actions of a single member:
- Hastert should immediately resign as Speaker (possibly even from the House itself);
- Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL, 88%) should quickly be elected Speaker -- not in spite of his pending retirement, but because of it!
- Hyde presides for three months, then retires;
- When the new Democratic House of Representatives returns, they elect either Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 95%) or John Murtha (D-PA, 75%).
...After which, all the breast-beaters at TWiT will feel ever so much better. They can go back to what they do best: railing at the majority Democrats, then heading off to the cocktail parties, secure in the knowledge that they don't really have to make any decisions (in fact, they will not be able to do so, since they'll be back to minority status).
Oh dear, is Big Lizards now predicting that the Democrats will take the House? Not under ordinary circumstances; Americans understand that the actions of one member do not "disgrace" the entire body, because people are individuals, not merely cogs in a big machine; cardinal numbers, not ordinal numbers. But if the GOP were to follow Blankley's advice and conduct a mass resignation of the leadership...? Oh, yes, they would lose the House: they would succeed in convincing Americans of the falsity that they all knew about the explicit IMs.
Democrats would then so hogtie the president that we lose the war. Thousands would die, and the terrorists would seize control of another oil-producing nation in the Middle East.
But at least, thank goodness, all 232 disgraced House Republicans will have gotten their comeuppance, good and hard! A brilliant plan, Tone: all other business of Congress pales to insignificance compared to punishing the Republicans for not being clairvoyant:
Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages [vaguely suggestive and mildly inappropriate] to underage congressional pages [who were a few months from being legal adults]. His aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey [except for all those pages who said they knew nothing about it and were not "warned," contrary to what one page said].
That last point is especially apt, given that Blankley's entire case for demanding Hastert's resignation rests on the idea that everyone should have known that Mark Foley was a sexual pervert who preyed upon pages; but even the majority of the pages themselves, who would have had the best vantage point to see such aberrant behavior, seem to have had no such knowledge, according to the New York Times. They saw him as a "caring ally":
Raymond Schillinger, 20, also a Georgetown student, echoed those thoughts. He worked for Mr. Foley this spring as an intern and said the congressman treated the young staff very well.
“He was very affable, always friendly with the staff, but never over friendly, nothing suggestive,” Mr. Schillinger said....
Matthew Loraditch, who worked as a page with Ms. Gallo and Mr. McDonald in 2001 and 2002, said a supervisor had once casually mentioned that Mr. Foley “was odd” and that he later saw sexually explicit text messages that Mr. Foley had sent to two former pages after they left the program.
But Mr. Loraditch said he was never warned by program supervisors to stay away from him. “He was friendly,” said Mr. Loraditch, who maintains a Web site for alumni and attends Towson University in Maryland. “He would talk to us more than some other members would.”
Loraditch, by the way, was the only page who told ABC they had been officially "warned" about Foley. But Loraditch subsequently retracted his statement and said that nobody "warned them," and that he had no reason to believe Foley was anything but friendly -- sometimes overbearingly so. There was nothing more than an informal observation by one congressman that Foley was "odd."
So even most of the pages had no idea what Foley was doing to -- or rather, in most cases, with the willing participation of -- a few of them.
Is this a defense for Foley? Not at all... it's a defense for Dennis Hastert, John Boehner, Tom Reynolds, and John Shimkus, along with "every Republican member of Congress." You know, those who were "disgraced" by the actions of Mark Foley; just as every Republican is presumably disgraced by Jack Abramoff (and every doctor in America is disgraced by the actions of Jack Kevorkian).
Do we really need supposed conservatives buying into the liberal, even socialist idea that individuals are defined, not by their own behavior, but merely as being part of a group? Are all blacks disgraced by the antics of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? Are all Moslems guilty of the suicide bombings of jihadists? And are all Jews defined by Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians in Hebron?
And is Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, "disgraced" by the actions of his fellow journalists at the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald, and even Fox News?
Meanwhile, Florida newspapers — who were leaked copies of the e-mail with the Louisiana boy last year — defended their decision not to run stories. Both The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald were given copies of the e-mail, as were other news organizations, including Fox News.
"Our decision at the time was ... that because the language was not sexually explicit and was subject to interpretation, from innocuous to 'sick,' as the page characterized it, to be cautious," said Tom Fiedler, executive editor of the Herald. "Given the potentially devastating impact that a false suggestion of pedophilia could have on anyone, not to mention a congressman known to be gay, and lacking any corroborating information, we chose not to do a story."
Why should we listen to a disgraced journalist like Blankley? Sure, he himself never knew anything about those e-mails; but other journalists did, and he's a journalist too. He shares their disgrace.
And yes, the journalists who did see the e-mails said they were so open to interpretation that they could not conclude there was any "there" there... not even enough to run a story or contact the authorities. But if that is a defense for the journalists -- isn't it equally a defense for the other members of Congress, who saw nothing more (and in many cases substantially less) than the reporters saw?
But Blankley stands firm: the entire GOP leadership should resign, hand the House over to the Democrats, and withdraw from politics. With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?
GOP pundits will happily form a circular firing squad, just to prove we're ever so much more selfless (that is, self-abusing) than those selfish Democrats. Republicans have always been eager to commit suicide so people will think well of conservatism.
If Blankley wants to despise his fellow Republicans for not rising to the godlike standards he sets (for others, of course, not himself), let him do so; but when his self-loathing graduates to an attempt to flagellate the entire Republican Party and precipitate the loss of the House and Senate, just to parade his own moral superiority, he's "walking on the fightin' side of me."
The only guilty party here is Mark Foley. He resigned, as he should have. He may suffer legal penalties; I have no idea what laws are involved in having text-message "sex" in the District of Columbia with a 17-year old.
He's not a "child molester," as has been repeatedly claimed by Democrats -- who, by the way, never said any such a thing about Gerry Studds, who boffed a 17 year old male page back in 1973 (he took him to Morocco to evade American law), admitted it in 1983, and was censured by the House; but who refused to resign, was re-elected six times after that incident, and who was never cast out of the Democratic caucus.
Foley (and Studds) are in fact ephebophiles, adults who are sexually attracted to post-pubescent teenagers. Many heterosexual men are attracted to "Lolitas," while many gay men are attracted to "twinks." This is utterly alien to those adults who are sexually attracted to actual, pre-pubescent children.
Society considers sex with teenagers younger than 18 "statutory rape" (which is why Studds took his page to Morocco to have his fun); but anybody who cannot morally distinguish between having sex with a 17 year old and raping a 7 year old is himself morally diseased. It's like the difference between punching someone in the mouth during an argument -- and getting a gun and shooting him.
Is this a defense for Foley? From the infinitely more serious charge of child molestation -- yes, you bet it is. So far as we can tell, Foley actually engaged in "hot talk" only with willing participants who were 16 or 17 years old (or over 18, but that's not any sort of crime).
And it's also a further defense for the various members of Congress who Blankley thinks must resign: nobody has even suggested that Foley was endangering "children," except those who conflate a 17 and a 7 year old. All that Hastert, et al, knew was that he sent a few overly friendly e-mails to a former page who was almost an adult himself. He thought Foley's e-mails were "sick" (though they were not sexual at all), so Shimkus told Foley to leave the "kid" alone... and Foley did. This isn't "look[ing] the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away," as Blankley charges; it's resolving the problem... the only problem that was known at that point.
The only person here who should resign is perhaps Tony Blankley, for bearing false witness against Denny Hastert, Tom Reynolds, and the two Johns, and against "every Republican member of Congress." Blankley should resign from the Washington Times for accusing the entire Republican caucus of being accomplices after the fact -- when in fact, not a one of them had any reason to suspect anything at all was going on.
Tony Blankley has outed himself as a closet liberal... and for that, he should leave the Washington Times and go to work for the Post.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 3, 2006, at the time of 2:51 PM
TrackBack URL for this hissing: http://biglizards.net/mt3.36/earendiltrack.cgi/1302
The following hissed in response by: Big D
This is possibly the most overblown scandal since Le affaire de Palme. Lighten up - it is so sad it's funny.
It has been and always will be this way. When liberals err, they are just being themselves. So of course we forgive them. When conservatives err in the slightest measure, they immediately branded as hypocrites.
Hypocrites in the press love to revel in the hypocrisy of others. Part of their reason for being journalists.
The following hissed in response by: the count
I prefer to describe it as pederasty (over your impossible to spell lexicon) because Foley has now admitted through his attorney that he is gay.
Your posts on Bearing False Witness and Blankley are right on. I hope Big D is right to discount the scandal, but how many surprises can we take?
The following hissed in response by: nk
I agree that the substance of the accusations is as Dafydd says -- practically non-existent, malicious and slanderous. The problem is that the accused do not have the stature to simply shrug the accusations off. They have no record that they care for anything more than their perks, their pork and their power.
The above hissed in response by: nk at October 3, 2006 5:55 PM
The following hissed in response by: Terrye
I agree, and I read over at Just One Minute that an employee of the Washington Times was picked up in a sting while waiting for his 13 year old internet date.
Clarice Feldman of the American Thinker was talking about it. So maybe Tony really had better resign.
The idea that Hastert should resign and the Republicans should commit ritual suicide or something and hand the House to the likes of Pelosi is just so stupid.
I am getting really tired of some of these mouthy commentators who never really have to make decisions but never seem to tire of telling everyone else what they should do.
The above hissed in response by: Terrye at October 3, 2006 6:45 PM
The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael
Hmmm... I'm not sure you have the standing to complain about this, Dafydd. Didn't a weblog know about this story as far back as September 21st? And yet you did nothing?
I myself feel great shame, since somebody read that post, and I, too, read Blog posts. And.... yes. I did not act on the information that has been proven to be known to other people.
A lot of people are getting very angry about Foley's conduct, as they should be. It is normal to try to pin blame, and this level of deviancy is just assumed to be noticeable by anybody who ever comes within viewing distance of the guilty. Surely those working around Foley would HAVE to know about his improper conduct... after all, they all knew he was GAY, so the conduct of his letters and IM's just HAD to be written all over his face, right?
Not even close to true, as anybody who has known ANYBODY who has been abused by family can attest.
Hastert alerted the head of the Page Program, which was his duty. The head of the program was told by Foley the letters were innocent, and by the Page's parents that he could not see the letters. The family considered the episode closed. Quick Mr. Armchair D.A.: What was Hastert supposed to do?
Any further investigation would have been what, getting a court order to read the letters? Giving Foley a lie detector test? Going around and asking Pages if they have been solicited by Foley, and by-the-way-don't-tell-anybody-we-asked-you?
There are limits to what he could have done in the absence of a complaint.
The following hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu
Yeah, it does seem like scratching your nose with a hand grenade is something the GOP just can't work out is a bad idea. Every time they try getting at the scratch by holding the grenade at a new angle. It hilarious, because you can see them thinking that this time, by God, we'll see who gets their face blasted.
The above hissed in response by: Nuclear Siafu at October 3, 2006 11:18 PM
The following hissed in response by: hunter
I decline to dance to the tune the dhimicrats are playing. This election is not a referendum on perverted middle aged men. The House leadership, from everything that has been disclosed, did everything reasonable in the situation. When they discovered he was rudely and actively after young men/boys for sex, he was pushed out.
This far more responsible than the dhimmis have ver been regarding irresponsible sex in their party.
this election is about the war.
One party has its leaders declaring defeat. Theo other seeks victory in this war.
I vote for victory.
The following hissed in response by: Norman Rogers
One aspect of all this that isn't getting the play it deserves is the hypocrisy by (who else) the Dems in claiming that the Republican leadership should have taken steps to minimize contacts between a known homosexual and under-age pages.
Hey -- let's talk about the Boy Scouts!
Here we have a very well run, valuable, and effective organization that gets the joke -- keep homosexual men AWAY from young boys. And the Democrats vilify the Boy Scouts of America and have been pushing local governments to cut off ties because, "the BSA descriminates against homosexuals".
I think the blogosphere ought to take this up, don't you?
The following hissed in response by: Pyrran
What worries me most about this swamp the Republicans seem to have stepped in is that the average American voter will listen to five minutes of news and conclude that all babies should be thrown out with their bathwater. Now that I've thoroughly mixed my metaphors, its time to push on. I thought the news media had reached the bottom in their insane desire to rid the world of Republicans, but they seem to have chopped a hole in the floor and descended rapidly into the basement. I am completely amazed at the naked complicity they share with the Democrats. I guess I always sort of knew it, but its more like a slap in the face with a wet tuna this time. All that's missing is the Democratic Party logo and Howard Dean reading us the latest headlines. Shucks folks, I'm speechless!
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