Monday, October 09, 2006

Foley Update

Everytime the House Republicans seem to settle on an agreed story of what they knew when, something new comes out:

A Republican congressman knew of disgraced former representative Mark Foley's inappropriate Internet exchanges as far back as 2000 and personally confronted Foley about his communications.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) confirmed yesterday that a former page showed the congressman Internet messages that had made the youth feel uncomfortable with the direction Foley (R-Fla.) was taking their e-mail relationship. Last week, when the Foley matter erupted, a Kolbe staff member suggested to the former page that he take the matter to the clerk of the House, Karen Haas, said Kolbe's press secretary, Korenna Cline.

And where did it go from there? I'm sure in a couple of days Speaker Hastert will have something to say about it.

Of course, nothing about the Foley scandal will change the mind of that most stalwart of Republicans, the conservative evangelical Christian: dozens of interviews here in southeastern Virginia, a conservative Christian stronghold that is a battleground in races for the House and Senate, many said the episode only reinforced their reasons to vote for their two Republican incumbents in neck-and-neck re-election fights, Representative Thelma Drake and Senator George Allen.

“This is Foley’s lifestyle,” said Ron Gwaltney, a home builder, as he waited with his family outside a Christian rock concert last Thursday in Norfolk. “He tried to keep it quiet from his family and his voters. He is responsible for what he did. He is paying a price for what he did. I am not sure how much farther it needs to go.”

The Democratic Party is “the party that is tolerant of, maybe more so than Republicans, that lifestyle,” Mr. Gwaltney said, referring to homosexuality.

I want to take what he says at face value, but it's awfully hard not to think that what he means is he's not sure how much "farther it needs to go"...if it harms the Republican party. And yet again, an evangelical links homosexuality and pedophilia, even though there is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the world that homosexuals are more inclined to molest or sexually abuse children.

Why do evangelical conservatives give a free pass to the GOP? far as culpability in the Foley case, Mr. Dunn said, House Republicans may benefit from the evangelical conception of sin. Where liberals tend to think of collective responsibility, conservative Christians focus on personal morality. “The conservative Christian audience or base has this acute moral lens through which they look at this, and it is very personal,” Mr. Dunn said. “This is Foley’s personal sin.”

That makes no sense. First of all, liberals only tend to think of "collective responsibility" where in fact there is a community that shares guilt for wrongful acts. That in no way excuses individuals from responsibility for personal wrong-doing. Secondly, the wrongful act that has liberals up in arms is not what Foley did, which I'm pretty sure most liberals regard with as dim a view as evangelical Christians; it's the particular acts of Republicans who knew or should have know what Foley was up to, and did nothing to stop it beyond warn him to stop and then forget about it. But these evanglicals seem to have a different standard:

To a person, those interviewed said that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois should resign if he knew of the most serious claims against Mr. Foley and failed to stop him. They said the degree of Mr. Hastert’s responsibility remained to be seen.

So, Hastert is wrong only to the extent that he knew for certain of the "most serious" claims against Foley. But even as House Speaker and leader of the House Republicans, it is apparently not his responsiblity to follow up on repeated hints that Foley was up to something. I find myself wondering what these evangelicals are waiting for; the revelation that Hastert watched a video of Foley having sex with a 16-year old and then did nothing? Forgive me for thinking that Christians in general aspired to a more "pro-active" view of personal responsibility.

...many conservative churchgoers said that what stood out for them was not the politics but the individual sin. “It is not going to affect my vote because I don’t live in Florida,” said Scott O’Connell, a mechanical engineer who described himself as a fundamentalist. “But there is a bigger moral issue which I would say is the prism I view this through: I do not believe in homosexuality.”

David Thomas, a father taking his family to the concert, said that he, too, was leaning toward voting Republican and that the scandal only reinforced his conservative Christian convictions. “That is the problem we have in society,” Mr. Thomas said. “Nobody polices anybody. Everybody has a ‘right’ to do whatever.”

In other words, Foley was gay, therefore the problem is society's (and by implication the Democrat's) permissive attitude towards homsexuality. That his non-reaction implies a Christian permissive attitude towards old men abusing their position to chase after young men is an irony lost on Mr. O'Connell. And Mr. Thomas seems to miss the irony that it is the failure of the House GOP to "police" Foley that's got the rest of the country up in arms.

If anyone was expecting Foley to change the minds of these "values voters", they were sorely mistaken.

1 comment:

Nat-Wu said...

I think it's entirely moronic to blame the Democrats because Foley is gay!