It’s hard to refrain from puking when one hears the GOP talking points circulating on Mark Foley, in characteristic violent conflict with all logic and facts of the case. “Dems’ sex scandals are far worse.” (They’re not, they’ve all been consensual – but who cares? Does that make Foley innocent? And why not condemn all wrongdoing?) “Dems knew about this abuse but deliberately sprung it now to affect the election.” (They didn’t, the GOP supervisor of the pages did not share the information with his Democratic counterpart and ABC's Brian Ross has reluctantly revealed that his source was a Republican.) The most hilarious line is probably “The GOP House leadership was afraid they’d be labeled gay-bashers.” (!!!) The list goes on and on — not to mention the implied assertions such as “consensual sex between two adult men is the same as pedophilia” and “all gay men are predatory pedophiles.” Somehow, for the hardcore conservative zealots, the GOP leadership’s deliberate covering up of this affair to hold onto a congressional seat, and Hastert’s lying, are not sins in comparison, if they’re even acknowledged at all. What about the welfare of the kids involved? What about the horrendous abuse of power?
Thankfully, some conservatives have dropped partisanship to condemn the real scoundrels. But when even the PBS NewsHour guest for the GOP is spouting off about the 23-year old scandal of Democrat Gary Studds (while ignoring the contemporaneous sex scandal of Republican Dan Crane), it’s pretty sad, pathetic and infuriating.
If I were to list every single example of this crap, this post would be pretty long. Over at Firedoglake, Trex offers a mini round-up and vents for many liberals:
Okay, so in the pantheon of lying Reich Wing flacks, it appears that Drudge was dispatched to blame the victims, Ben Stein was called out (It must be a serious political emergency when Karl Rove's office is asking F-list Mtv game show hosts to carry water for the RNC. I mean, who's next? Jenny McCarthy?) to blame the gays, Sean Hannity is (of course!) blaming President Clinton, and Katherine Harris is blaming, well, who, exactly? The media? The Democrats? Oh, and of course, Foley himself is blaming a combination of alcohol and the priest who molested him when he was a teen.
The fact is that this is a Republican scandal, made by Republicans, perpetrated on Republican Youth, covered up and hidden by, yes, Republicans. They have no one to blame on this but themselves.
John Cole has been sounding off on this issue. And Eugene Robinson offers his characteristic lucid analysis (followed by a discussion here). From Robinson’s column:
Former speaker Newt Gingrich suggested over the weekend that House leaders may have worried last year that if they pursued the Foley matter, they'd be "accused of gay-bashing." Clearly, in terms of his spinning skills, Gingrich has lost a step. The issue was whether a congressman was having improper communications with a child, not whether the congressman was gay; it would have been just as troubling if the e-mail had been sent to a female page. And anyway, it's a little late for the Republicans to denounce gay-bashing after raising it to an art form.
And from the chat:
Silver Spring, Md.: This morning on C-SPAN, one caller explained that the whole Foley scandal is really Bill Clinton's fault because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Former Defense Dept. Spokesperson Tori Clarke said that she "wouldn't connect the dots in that way" but did carry her disagreement with that assessment any further. Do you think that a "Blame Clinton, Gays, and Demon Rum" approach will work very well for the GOP at this point?
Eugene Robinson: Wow, I missed that one. I can't imagine what the connection might be. In any event, no, I don't think that will work.
Alexandria, Va.: I find it fascinating that the GOP and its right-wing media echo chamber think they can spin pedophilia. Tony Snow: "simply naughty emails." Ben Stein: "-Foley is a poor misguided Republican man who had a romantic thing for young boys. He sent them suggestive e-mail. I agree, that's not great." Matt Drudge: The "16 and 17 year old beasts" were "egging him on"
This reaction strikes me as nearly as bad as the crime. Do they think this will work?
Eugene Robinson: I can't imagine that this will work, and in fact it seems to particularly enrage some sectors of the Republican base. Tony Snow did a quick about-face -- by mid-afternoon he had dropped the "naughty e-mails" shtick and was furrowing his brow in sorrowful concern. I imagine somebody told him how his blithe dismissal of the whole thing had sounded.
All that sane, responsible adults ask for in this case is the truth, justice, and a little compassion for the pages. But hey, Republican hacks — keep running with “Blame Clinton, Gays, and Demon Rum” instead; you’ve had plenty of practice.