Folks are all abuzz about the resignation of Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) after it was revealed he was using the internet to pursue an underage male page. Foley, prior to this, was best known as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.
While many are making this to be a huge scandal and a horrid disgrace, I think it’s actually a sign of things getting better in Congress.
Back in 1983, two Congressmen — Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Dan Crane (R-IL) were caught having illicit relations with the underage Congressional pages. Crane’s paramour was female, and he was defeated in re-election. The object of Studds’ affection was male, and Studds defiantly refused to apologize — in fact, he got the former page (the encounters took place in 1973, and the “youth” was now a legal adult) to join him in a press conference. Both men were censured, but Studds kept getting re-elected and served until he retired in 1996. (Although the joke “how do you know if Gerry Studds has borrowed your book? He keeps bending the pages over!” still garners a laugh around New England.)
20-odd years ago, members of Congress boinking underage pages was worth a censure, and barely worth running them out of office over. Nowadays, just talking dirty to them is enough to get you ridden out of town on a rail.
Well done, Congress.