Watching the entire Foley scandal unfold this week has been amazing. It provides a textbook example of how not to handle a crisis or sudden revelation. Consider the steps taken by the Republican leadership, Foley himself, and the associated right wing mainstream media lackeys in the wake of this scandal being broken:
* Deny any prior knowledge
* Michael Savage: doubt the validity of the entire story (um, Foley didn’t resign for no reason, there Mikey)
* Blame the victims (damn those cute, tight butted young pages and their baiting those weak-willed gay Congressmen!)
* Foley: I’m an alcoholic! (Okay…….but so is/was Ted Kennedy)
* Drudge: It was all a prank by those rascally pages!
* Foley: Um…a priest molested me! Yep, that’s why I’m gay too.
* Bring up the 1983 Gerry Studds scandal as an example of how the Democrats did nothing, and are politicizing Foleygate. (Hmm…Foley was censured, but got reelected anyway. The point is, it was acknowledged by the leadership.)
* Somehow tie this to Bill Clinton (note: this applies to everything)
* Question the timing of the relevations, coming so close to the mid-term elections. (Obviously a devious act by the Liberal Media ™ )
* Show a graphic (on Fox) listing Foley as (D-FL) – ooops, our “mistake”!
* Denny Hastert: accept full responsibility…while blaming the Democrats and the Liberal Media ™
As is the case with most scandals, the act itself is never nearly as serious as the eventual cover-up. The funniest thing is they never seem to learn this simple fact. It’s been brought to light that the Republican leadership has been aware of this for quite some time, and did nothing about it. That is the issue here, not the fact that Foley is gay, not the fact that he is Republican. It’s the simple fact that many were aware of what was going on, and did absolutely nothing to stop it. The only one with any honor here is Foley himself, ironically, who quickly resigned once the scandal came to light rather than trying to defend what happened and keep his seat. Looking the other way to maintain power is an abuse of that power, and inevitably raises more questions. For example, if they were covering this up, what else might they be hiding? With this crowd, one can never be too sure.
The old saw that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is invoked so often because it has never ceased to be true. With one party control, it becomes all about maintaining that power and getting reelected more than serving your constituents with honor and dignity. There is no denying that the Democrats can use this to political advantage, but so far they’ve been able to basically sit back and watch the Republicans self destruct in vain attempts to defend and deflect the issue. How this ultimately affects the election remains to be seen, but my gut tells me that this issue will not play well to the base, particularly the religious right which they covet. Karl Rove is always capable of pulling an “October Surprise” out of his ass in the coming weeks, so nobody should count their electoral chickens just yet. (“Hey, lookie here, we just found Osama!”)
Plenty of humor has come out during this scandal as well, particularly ABC News reporter Brian Ross reading the lurid instant messages on the air in a dull monotone, as shown in this clip form The Daily Show:
Grab some popcorn kiddies, I don’t think this one has been fully milked yet.