Thoughts on the Foley Scandal

11:01 Thu 05 Oct 2006

The whole thing is like a Hunter S. Thompson scene. I can visualize the Ralph Steadman sketch, rendering Thompson’s description of bloated representatives preying on pages while stuffing themselves with pork. And it’s not just Foley, or the coverup around him. It’s the Republicans (our ruling party) in general. As pointed out by Glenn Greenwald, their hypocrisy is not merely incredible and endemic but also indicative:

>People who have a publicly and vocally expressed obsession with other people’s moral behavior and who want to use the power of the Government to enforce that obsession—the Rick Santorums and Rush Limbaughs and Newt Gingrichs and Jim Bakkers and Ralph Reeds and Mark Foleys of the world—are almost always fighting their own demons, not anyone else’s. It is so important for them to parade around as moral protectors and moral warriors precisely because they have no other way to cleanse themselves, despite being in desperate need of a cleansing.
>—Glenn Greenwald, “Mark Foley and the unmasked Republican Party”, 4 Oct 2006

I strongly suspect that there are forces at play we know nothing about—Foley’s actions clearly make him a target for blackmail, and who knows who might have started the leak rolling? It could be as innocent as a page who’d had enough, or it could be a page who was trying to blackmail him, or it could be some shadowy group (intelligence agencies, organized crime groups, etc.) with motives that are and will likely remain opaque. It could simply be the exposure of a terrible hypocrite who finally got too careless, but it’s important among the soap-opera elements to remember that these people are tremendously powerful, and deal directly with the interests of other even more powerful actors.

Lastly, while Foley appears at first glance to be immensely foolish, committing acts that are obvious and that pose great danger to his political career, I think it’s more than simple lack of self-control. His actions might have reflected a rational assessment of risk—that is, he’s in an environment where all kinds of scandal is commonplace, and where he and his cronies are covering for each other in a variety of different ways He might reasonably have thought, “Well, I might get caught, but with given all the other stuff that’s out there, it’s unlikely that I will be the one who’s exposed.”. He might have considered the many successful and ongoing coverups that we know nothing about and decided that even if he were caught, it stood a good chance of being swept under the rug (as appears to have occurred in his specific case in the past). His actions and attitude point very clearly to a political scene where corruption and abuse of power are unremarkable, unremarked, and routine.

Leave a Reply