Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No sex please, we are Republicans

The Foley sex scandal, essentially boring as it is, is ripe with fascinating insights for the seasoned political scandal watcher.

I've often asserted that the 'sex scandal' is generally an irrelevant presenting issue, a decoy, camouflaging aspects of real corruption.

Not this one, the US have managed to turn the process on its head. The real corruption has already been dragged about and largely ignored, the sex scandal finally being the catalyst.

It is a different dynamic, a revelation to the scandal scholar. But only in America, surely, where morals are a key plank on the political agenda of the right.

Which makes the whole issue doubly interesting and treacherous for the Republican blame shifters. The most fanciful tactic is the attempts to compare Foley and Clinton. Example:

This morning on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume compared Mark Foley's predatory behavior towards underage pages to President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Hume said that while Foley is now “in total disgrace in his party,” Clinton's “inappropriate behavior toward a subordinate [didn't] even cost Bill Clinton his standing in his party.”

There are two enormous and dangerous gaps in this strategy. First is that Foley compare to Clinton as a thanksgiving turkey dinner compares to yesterday's take out burger. Clinton still, after sic years on the sidelines, commands larger than life attention around the world. His sexcapades aer almost seen as a confirmation rather than a lapse. They always were, and remain a non-issue.

Bearing with the comparison; Foley, preying on young boys earns almost universal disgust. Clinton's dalliance with a young woman merely confirmed what we all understand; power is an aphrodisiac. Was he wrong? Quite probably on a number of counts, but not of any hanging offence.

The second chasm Republican have to leap, in this attack, is their own championing of morals as a political agenda item. Dangerous territory at any time, disastrous when it comes home to bite.

The GOP is swinging a two edged sword on this attack, and both edges threaten to smite them. In their desperation the Republicans have attacked their opponents as the instigators of this current mess. Yet while blaming the Democrats on a number of levels they have exposed their own weakness even more.

It was not a Democrat who strayed from the path of human decency, lets avoid the moral issues, preying on the young for sex is more fundamentally aberrant than many of the issues raised by the moral crusaders.

The Republicans, by their actions, by continuing revelations, have shown they merely play convenient lip service to their moral base.

For the leadership, again conveniently, to turn a blind eye to Foley's actions demonstrates, or underlines, the greater willingness to use power as a tool against the weak and vulnerable in wider society.

Rather than dig themselves out of a hole the party is only serving to highlight the enormous hypocrisy which bought about the mess in the first place.

But only in America perhaps, because most societies though they dabble in it, know full well that you can't legislate morality. It is not, and never should be a political issue. Again I stress, Foley's actions were not about morality, but were a plain abuse of power against the essentially powerless and vulnerable.

On the weekend, here in sunny western Canada, with people scurrying for last minute Thanksgiving shopping, one busy corner was lined with people holding signs along the lines of: Abortion kills children. Those in the car with me wanted to go back home and write their own signs; war kills people. The moral imperative extends much further than the confines allowed by the right. As one of the passengers commented, unthinking, 'you can't be just a little bit pregnant!' adding, you are moral or you aren't, and these people aren't.

1 comment:

Praguetwin said...

The second chasm Republican have to leap, in this attack, is their own championing of morals as a political agenda item. Dangerous territory at any time, disastrous when it comes home to bite.

Perfect. This is what is getting me about this whole affair. The irony of it.