Sunday, October 22, 2006

What is scandalous?

I wasn't going to chime in on the Foley sex scandal. What hasn't been written about it -- is there any reason to dedicate more words to this sordid affair?

An article in today's Washington Post reveals Foley's techniques for "mentoring" young pages until they are of legal age. It was very easy for him to cozy up to the male pages, as most of the restrictions were focused on keeping young females away from the adult males hanging around the halls of cogress.

But as sick as all that is, we see symptoms pervasive in our government and greater society. Foley's high status as a male in Congress could be used as bait to lure in young kids. Here a page talks about the importance of maintaining a political contact over reporting Foley's behavior.

"I didn't want to piss off a member of an institution that I really revered," said a former Republican page from 2002, who said that, shortly after he finished the program, he exchanged a handful of messages with Foley over two months and that they gradually became sexual. He played along, then slowed his responses until Foley took the hint and stopped. He never considered reporting Foley to authorities. "I figured maybe someday I will want to be involved in Congress," he said. "I didn't want to make an enemy."

"There's something that really feels good about getting to hang out with people who are powerful and well known,"
said one young page. While another remembers "...him riding by in his Bimmer and talking about all the cars he got and going down to Florida to take out his yacht." Another reports that Foley offered to write him a letter of recommendation for college. These are the great temptations, offerings from a man of power that grant access to the first rungs on the ladder of success.

The debate is as old as the first acknowledged pile of material wealth -- who can we trust to run the government? The Foley scandal is not just about sex. It is about power and position. Far too many politicians are in it for themselves, not for their constituents. That is the greatest of all scandals.

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