Bloggers are agog over Florida Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually suggestive e-mails to congressional pages and celebrate Neil Armstrong’s grasp of the indefinite article.
Paging Rep. Foley: The e-mails and instant messages sent by just-resigned Florida Rep. Mark Foley to underage congressional pages have triggered an FBI inquiry into whether the Republican congressman violated any federal laws. In the New York Times, former pages described him as being much nicer and more accessible than his colleagues. “He was one of the cool congressmen,” one page said. “He was willing to chill out with us.”
Many are up in arms about revelations that GOP leaders may have known about Foley’s behavior as early as 2001. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and his staff maintained that they knew only about the “overfriendly” e-mails, not the more explicit text and instant messages. At Erie Gay News, gay pagan Michael Mahler is livid. “So, the same party that demonized gay Americans in consensual relationships with other adults turns a blind eye when one of their own goes after minors and people who are subordinates,” he writes. Techie David Holtzman at Global POV cries foul at Republicans for not turning in Foley. “When you look at some of their bizarre ‘principle’ stands like trying to upend the Constitution to keep poor, brain-dead Terry Schiavo alive and yet leaving a Humbert Humbert wannabe in Congress and … also serving as co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus; it’s mind-boggling,” he writes.
Reading over one of the conversations in question, Bill Quick at Daily Pundit is surprised by the page’s boldness. “I’ve got no problem with Congressman Foley paying the usual price for treating the House Page Pen the same way BJ Clinton treated the White House intern pool (or trying to, at least), but you’ll forgive me if I don’t wax hysteric about the poor innocent pages after reading what was nearly an hour long Internet Message (IM) session,” he states.
Liberal and former litigator Glenn Greenwald examines the law that could criminalize Foley’s actions (which, ironically, the representative co-sponsored), before engaging in schadenfreude. “[I]t is hard to deny the sweet, sweet justice of Republicans being politically damaged by a lurid sex scandal in Washington. But unlike the one they obsessively fueled in order to impeach a President, this one seems, for better or worse, actually to involve serious sexual crimes against individuals whom the law defines as ‘minors,’ ” he writes.
At National Review’s Corner, John J. Miller projects the fallout this scandal could have for an ailing Republican Party. “Foley is on the verge of becoming the poster child of a party that is concerned about little more than preserving its power,” he states.
Conservative Dean Barnett, guest-blogging at Hugh Hewitt, rejects the typical blogger’s impulse to spin this: “FOLEY’S A TRAGIC FIGURE, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he’s also a disgusting figure. And if it turns out that members of the Republican leadership were negligent in bringing Foley to political justice, they will reap as they have sown. But those who see this purely as a partisan political matter are betraying their myopia. …The Democrats who are currently jockeying to position themselves as the lionhearted defenders of Congressional pages are miscalculating. Their opportunism is transparent.”
Many bloggers muse on the connection between Foley’s behavior and the fact he was still closeted. Terrance, the Internet political strategist at Republic of T, blames the GOP for Foley’s abuse of power. “Foley belongs to a party that wouldn’t let him be an openly gay congressman and live a life of honesty and integrity,” he writes. “So, lacking that possibility, he chose … to seek expression in an arena where he (a) had some power and (b) was likely to be protected by the political interests of his colleagues,” he asserts.
Gay conservative Andrew Sullivan continues in this vein, writing: “What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I’ve read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty.” Politically moderate law prof Ann Althouse responds to Sullivan, unconvinced: “Sullivan’s hypothesis is: Keeping information about your sexual orientation private will corrupt you. His proof – can you challenge it? – is that he knows so many people and has seen so much. He’s making a strong political argument: If you are gay, you must be open about it, and once you are open about it, you will be forced to support gay marriage. To make this argument, he’s willing to imply that Foley’s behavior toward a young subordinate is a manifestation of homosexuality. But many heterosexuals also pursue young subordinates. They are fully open about their sexual orientation, but somehow they do bad things too.”
Over at Wonkette, snark-meister Alex Pareene chronicles Foley’s career and the intertwined scandal, offering a handy primer to the whole mess, noting that the rehab Foley checked himself into is “the Kennedy kind, not the Focus on the Family cure-me-of-the-gay kind.”
A giant step for Armstrong: Long upbraided for bungling his history-making line—”One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”—as he stepped on the moon, Neil Armstrong’s record has been cleared by a recent audio analysis of the tape. He did not, in fact, omit the indefinite article “a” before “man”
Matthew Stibbe at Bad Language wonders why NASA’s radio technology was not good enough to detect this: “If we can’t understand a signal from a human being on the moon, what chance do we have with little green men from Alpha Centauri?” he asks.
Carson Sasser takes this moment to question the benefits of spaceflight: “Since that’s settled perhaps we can move on to a more important question regarding Armstrong’s statement. What about the ‘giant leap for mankind’ part? Where is it? …. What huge benefits have accrued to mankind as a result of our space exploration in general and our missions to the moon in particular? The answer appears to be very few.”
Adam Neil Villani of Monterey Park, Calif., is happy his namesake has been cleared. “I received my middle name, Neil, in honor of Armstrong, having been named after the first man on the Earth and the first man on the Moon,” he writes.
Read more about what Armstrong really said.