Yet again, I find I need to spell out exactly what I’m thinking about the Mark Foley scandal.
Foley (the Florida Republican) was doing things of disgusting morality, indisputable impropriety, but apparently not legally prohibited. He was exploiting his position and power and prestige for his own selfish needs, preying on those far younger and accustomed to deferring to him. For that, he needed to be exposed and driven from his position of public trust. As of now, it appears he didn’t quite do anything illegal, so criminal prosecution seems unlikely.
The person who exposed him publicly — apparently a now-former employee of the Human Rights Campaign — did a public service. That is indisputable. But that does not excuse him from questions — and criticism.
It appears that the gentleman in question had the explicit instant messages (not the somewhat creepy but not actionable e-mails) for some time, but “sat on them” and did not publish or release them for some time. In fact, they were not released until after the deadline for replacing Foley’s name on the ballot had passed.
Coincidence? I’m not sure. But I find the timing far more questionable than the vagaries of rising and falling (and, apparently, rising again) price of gasoline, and Bush gets routinely blamed for that.
So, Foley’s exposer apparently had the goods on Foley, but held off on them for some time. What’s the big deal? As long as it got out, who cares about the details?
I do. And so should you.
Foley, as I understand it, was creepy and disturbing and wrong, but not a raving, slobbering, uncontrollable sexual predator. Had he not been exposed, he might have stayed at the “creepy” stage the rest of his life. Or he might have crossed over into outright illegality and started assaulting young boys to sate his desires. We’ll never know now.
Let’s suppose that the guy from HRC sat on the information for three months before releasing it. If during those three months Foley had snapped and assaulted (or even killed — it’s happened before) a child, then the HRC guy would have some of the blame on him. Because he put his own motivations and goals and aspirations take precedence over protecting the public.
Foley’s gone. Politically, he’s dead; his body just hasn’t stopped moving. And good riddance. It should have happened a long time ago. And anyone who had access to those e-mails showing his active sexual pursuit of barely-legal former Congressional pages, but held them back for political gains, should also be shunned.
(And before anyone asks, when I say “anyone,” I include any members of the Republican leadership, who apparently knew about Foley’s tendencies and creepy e-mails, if they also knew about the instant messages or had other solid evidence of just how far he was going.)