04 October 2006

The Congressman & The Page

So if I'm the first to tell you about Mark Foley, let me also be the first to welcome you out from under that rock. Foley was a Florida Representative two weeks ago. But on September 29, 2006, he resigned. As it turns out, he was sending explicit emails and instant messages to congressional pages. This by itself is enough to make you shake your head, but by no means does it scream "blog worthy." However there are circumstances (and information) that I have yet to see bundled together. It paints a sordid picture of a double life, improprieties, and a failure to the public.

There is very little (for my purposes) to tell about Mark Foley before 2001. That's when congressional aide Kirk Fordham says he told House Speaker Dennis Hastert's Chief of Staff about inappropriate behavior by Foley toward interns. It was treated as a non-issue. Today, Fordham resigned.

Foley's explicit vernacular reappears two years later. This time in an email. Foley was publicly questioned about his sexual orientation and decides to drop out of a race for the Senate.

Fast forward two years and the Foley monster wakes again. But this time the page reports him for "freaking" him out. The bureaucracy is unbelievable. One congressman tells another to tell another to tell Foley to stop contacting this kid.

Anyway, it snowballs from there. The details are very juicy, but that's not what I'm here to share. National Public Radio did a fantastic time line. I suggest you take a moment and read it. I would say the phrase that best sums it up is: passing the buck.

Welcome Back. It's disturbing isn't it? Even more disconcerting is the fact that Foley made fighting child predators his personal quest. He pushed for legislation designed at protecting children from predators. I mean, part of me can't help but be impressed. While he was sending sexually suggestive messages to teenagers, he was pushing for bills aimed at deterring others from doing the same. That seems somehow selfish to me. It's as if some children need protecting and others don't. Part of what makes this interesting to me is this conversation between Foley and John Walsh, of the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children.

As you heard, Foley is for strict control of people who harm children. I guess his biggest problem is counting. He didn't realize that 16 is less than 18, and 16 year old boys still count as children. But to be fair, I think it is very good of him to fight for young children. The ones that really are too young to know a bad feeling when it comes do need advocates. I just think those advocates should be on the up and up, as they say. Mark Foley was not. Neither was House Speaker Dennis Hastert or anyone else who knew about it and did very little. Nor was Fox News for that matter.

And finally, the best part. In the media, reporters are using words like "explicit," and "suggestive" to describe what Foley said. They're also using excerpts from an instant messenger conversation. But from what I can tell, these excerpts and bland enough to be FCC-Friendly. The full transcription certainly is not.

If you want, it's here for you to read. IT IS TRULY EXPLICIT AND INAPPROPRIATE. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT A CONGRESSIONAL PAGE IS, I THINK YOU'RE TOO YOUNG TO READ IT. Nevertheless, once you have, be sure to take the quiz.

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