This whole Mark Foley thing is disgusting.
First, stop using the word “pedophile,” whether you personally think a 16 year-old is a child, or not. Forty-one percent of 15 and 16 year-olds are sexually active, and 16 is the age of consent for many European countries, as it so happens to be in Washington, D.C. Let’s reserve “pedophile” for people who actually prey on sexually immature children. In our own culture, historically girls were frequently married off at the age of 12. (Hurray for traditional marriage that hasn’t changed in thousands of years, right?)
The principal scandal is about sexual harassment, unsolicited romantic or sexual overtures from a person in a position of authority toward a more junior person. Partisan politics and sexual orientation ought to have been irrelevant. In the business world, when a supervisor is informed that an employee has been behaving inappropriately, disciplinary action must be taken. Supervisors who failed to interfere have been successfully sued by harassment victims.
Of course partisanship has reared its ugly head, with some Republicans accusing Democrats of releasing this information to the media just before an election. Perhaps that is the case, but let’s not get away from the facts here: a Congressman made inappropriate sexual comments to pages via the internet; Congressional leadership knew about it and did nothing. Claiming this is an election tactic is like a defense attorney blaming a witness for reporting a crime.
Democrats should refrain from exploiting this to partisan advantage, unless they are absolutely sure no one has any sixteen year-old skeletons in their closet, which is not a safe bet.
Still, the public recognizes that Republicans, who rode to power on a message of family values, circled their wagons and stuck their heads in the sand, preferring to attempt to avoid a scandal. What they didn’t realize was that disciplining a congressman for inappropriate behavior looks better in the public eye than covering it up. A lot better. The scandal should have been Foley’s; now it’s the GOP’s.