At least liberals are finally exhibiting a moral compass about something. I am sure that they’d be equally outraged if Rep. Mark Foley were a Democrat.
The object lesson of Foley’s inappropriate e-mails to male pages is that when a Republican congressman is caught in a sex scandal, he immediately resigns and crawls off into a hole in abject embarrassment. Democrats get snippy.
Foley didn’t claim he was the victim of a "witch-hunt." He didn’t whine that he was a put-upon "gay American." He didn’t stay in Congress and haughtily rebuke his critics. He didn’t run for re-election. He certainly didn’t claim he was "saving the Constitution." (Although his recent discovery that he has a drinking problem has a certain Democratic ring to it.)
In 1983, Democratic congressman Gerry Studds was found to have sexually propositioned House pages and actually buggered a 17-year-old male page whom he took on a trip to Portugal. The 46-year-old Studds indignantly attacked those who criticized him for what he called a "mutually voluntary, private relationship between adults."
When the House censured Studds for his sex romp with a male page, Studds — not one to be shy about presenting his backside to a large group of men — defiantly turned his back on the House during the vote. He ran for re-election and was happily returned to office six more times by liberal Democratic voters in his Martha’s Vineyard district. (They really liked his campaign slogan: "It’s the outfit, stupid.")
Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy referred to Studds’ affair with a teenage page as "a brief consenting homosexual relationship" and denounced Studds’ detractors for engaging in a "witch-hunt" against gays: "New England witch trials belong to the past, or so it is thought. This summer on Cape Cod, the reputation of Rep. Gerry Studds was burned at the stake by a large number of his constituents determined to torch the congressman for his private life."
Meanwhile, Foley is hiding in a hole someplace.
No one demanded to know why the Democratic speaker of the House, Thomas "Tip" O’Neill, took one full decade to figure out that Studds was propositioning male pages.
But now, the same Democrats who are incensed that Bush’s National Security Agency was listening in on al Qaeda phone calls are incensed that Republicans were not reading a gay congressman’s instant messages.
Let’s run this past the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals: The suspect sent an inappropriately friendly e-mail to a teenager — oh also, we think he’s gay. Can we spy on his instant messages? On a scale of 1 to 10, what are the odds that any court in the nation would have said: YOU BET! Put a tail on that guy — and a credit check, too!
When Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee found unprotected e-mails from the Democrats about their plan to oppose Miguel Estrada’s judicial nomination because he was Hispanic, Democrats erupted in rage that their e-mails were being read. The Republican staffer responsible was forced to resign.
But Democrats are on their high horses because Republicans in the House did not immediately wiretap Foley’s phones when they found out he was engaging in e-mail chitchat with a former page about what the kid wanted for his birthday.
The Democrats say the Republicans should have done all the things Democrats won’t let us do to al Qaeda — solely because Foley was rumored to be gay. Maybe we could get Democrats to support the NSA wiretapping program if we tell them the terrorists are gay.
On Fox News’ "Hannity and Colmes" Monday night, Democrat Bob Beckel said a gay man should be kept away from male pages the same way Willie Sutton should have been kept away from banks. "If Willie Sutton is around some place where a bank is robbed," Beckel said, "then you’re probably going to say, ‘Willie, stay away from the robbery.’"
Hmmmm, let’s search the memory bank. In July 2000, the New York Times "ethicist" Randy Cohen advised a reader that pulling her son out of the Cub Scouts because they exclude gay scoutmasters was "the ethical thing to do." The "ethicist" explained: "Just as one is honor bound to quit an organization that excludes African-Americans, so you should withdraw from scouting as long as it rejects homosexuals."
We need to get a rulebook from the Democrats:
— Boy Scouts: As gay as you want to be.
— Priests: No gays!
— Democratic politicians: Proud gay Americans.
— Republican politicians: Presumed guilty.
— White House press corps: No gays, unless they hate Bush.
— Active-duty U.S. military: As gay as possible.
— Men who date Liza Minelli: Do I have to draw you a picture, Miss Thing?
This is the very definition of political opportunism. If Republicans had decided to spy on Foley for sending overly friendly e-mails to pages, Democrats would have been screaming about a Republican witch-hunt against gays. But if they don’t, they’re enabling a sexual predator.
Talk to us Monday. Either we’ll be furious that Republicans violated the man’s civil rights, or we’ll be furious that they didn’t.