Last week, the Senate Ethics Committee voted to rebuke Senator Larry Craig, whose infamous “wide stance” in an airport men’s room got himself arrested for “disorderly conduct.” This reminded me of former Representative Mark Foley, who resigned after he was caught getting drunk and sending crass come-ons to barely of-age Congressional pages.
There is a common thread here, and it’s not “Republican sex offenders.” It’s that both were incredibly pathetic.
It’s the rare Republican who can really pull off a good sex scandal. There’s usually a sense of self-loathing that taints the scandalous politician from truly reveling in their debauchery.
For my favorite examples, let’s turn (as always) to Massachusetts.
The late Gerry Studds was a Congressman from the Bay State. He, like Mark Foley, found the young male pages at his disposal irresistible — at least one of them. But instead of getting tanked and sending the young fellow crass messages, Studds went for the gold. He took the boy to Europe, where the ages of drinking and consent are lower, got the boy sloshed, and had his way with him. And when he was caught and censured, he stood and turned his back on the House, rejecting their condemnation.
Studds’ colleague, Barney Frank, found himself so enamored of one fellow that he let the guy move into his townhouse. But the fellow just couldn’t be faithful, it seems, because he kept up his pay-for-play business (under the name “Hot Bottom”) and operated out of (and, I believe, at least once inside) Frank’s home.
And just last week, a rising star in the Bay State Democratic Party found himself in hot water.
Stan McGee is a very well-paid ($150,000 a year) member of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s staff. He holds the title of assistant secretary of policy and planning in the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (albeit currently on unpaid leave), and his wedding to his partner was featured in the New York Times.
Well, it appears that Mr. McGee’s regards for his wedding vows were Clintonian, if not Kennedyesque — he was arrested in Florida last December for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in a steam room at a posh resort.
THAT’S how you do it, Republicans. If you’re going to get into a sex scandal, for god’s sake, at least get some sex out of the mess. Don’t do it half-assed (if you’ll pardon the expression), go whole hog and revel in it.
Republicans should play to their strengths and stick to financial scandals and influence-peddling and the like. That’s where their strengths lie. And leave the sex and drugs to the Democrats.