As the news was all abuzz last week with reports about lurid e-mails and text-messages, Iâ€™m sure it seemed strange to some that I had no reflections to offer on the Mark Foley scandal. Indeed one commenter on this blog questioned why I was so silent on this very public and political spectacle.The truth of the matter is, I was just trying to sort it all out. All last week, just when Iâ€™d thought I gotten a handle on the story, some new revelation would come to light, and I would have to start from scratch in trying to put all the pieces together.
What we can say now is that there is still very much that is unknown and will not be known until there is some kind of a non-partisan investigation that can bring together all of the facts. That being said, hereâ€™s my basic response to what we do know.
1. Mark Foley has resigned in disgrace, and rightly so. Foleyâ€™s fate is a non-partisan issue. I know of no person, Democrat or Republican, who approves of Foleyâ€™s behavior, even if it is shown that he technically broke no laws. Foley abused his position of power, and he no longer deserves to be a congressman. I am glad he is gone from the capitol.
2. Who knew what when? It is becoming more and more apparent that some people have known about Foleyâ€™s misdeeds for quite some time, yet for whatever reason have kept it quiet until week before last. Some have speculated that the Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, has known about it for at least a year but has covered it up so as not jeapardize the Republican majority in the House. If that turns out to be the case, then Hastert should resign his leadership position and his seat in the House of Representatives. But as far as I can tell, it has not been definitively shown what Hastert knew and when he knew it. At this point, I will have to reserve judgment.
Others have noted that many Democrats have known about Foley for quite some time but have kept the story quiet until now so as to inflict maximum partisan damage against Republicans in the November elections. Indeed, Democrat Rahm Emanuelâ€™s inability to deny awareness of Foleyâ€™s behavior is instructive. Yesterday, on â€œABCâ€™s This Week,â€ George Stephanopoulos repeatedly asked Emanuel if he was aware of the Foley text-messages, and Emanuel could not deny that he knew about them. Emanuelâ€™s perfomance suggests that some Democrats had knowledge of these e-mails months ago but kept that knowledge out of the public domain until after Foley had already won his primary, thus making it impossible for Republicans to run another candidate. This suggests a cover-up for partisan purposes.
3. Investigations? If there are going to be investigations of anyone who might have had prior knowledge of Foleyâ€™s misdeeds, it must be a non-partisan investigator who will look into the possibility that some people (both Democrat and Republican) may have held back information on Mark Foley in order to gain partisan advantage. Anyone who may have done such a thing should resign from Congress, be they Democrat or Republican.
4. Are all Republicans hypocritical? Democrats have seized on the Foley scandal in order to suggest that the so-called party of â€œfamily valuesâ€ is hypocritical. They are using this to discourage evangelicals from turning out to the polls in November. I am not so certain that this tactic will be successful. Indeed, the New York Times reported this morning that Evangelicals are largely blaming Foley, not the Republican party.
5. How important is the Foley scandal as a political issue? I hope not much at all. There are weighty issues facing our country, not the least of which are national security and life-issues. With North Korea testing a nuclear weapon this week and with Nancy Pelosi promising to increase funding for embryonic stem-cell research, this is no time to give the Congress over to liberal leadership.
Americans should be outraged at the behavior of Mark Foley. They should also be outraged at anyone who would use Foleyâ€™s fall as an occasion to gain a partisan advantage at the polls this November.
Thatâ€™s it for now, but Iâ€™m sure there will be more later.