The ugliness that is the former Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) scandal keeps getting odder and odder -- and while remaining just as disgusting, has taken a few odd twists.
On Tuesday, Wild Bill of Passionate America sent out a press release saying he had uncovered the identity of the object of Mr. Foley's affections, and intended to reveal it. I was on his list, and excoriated him in a private e-mail for doing so. There were some profanities involved, and a request that he not bother me any more.
What Bill had not included -- and did not clarify enough for me to grasp, but that could very well be my fault -- was the key element of the expose' was that the person in question was NOT a minor at the time of the most explicit and incriminating conversations.
That changes everything.
Foley, thanks to the passage of a certain date in time, suddenly is transformed from a predatory pedophile into a more-creepy version of the kind of guy who goes for the "Barely Legal" not-quite-kiddie-porn. Morally and ethically, it matters little, but legally it's a world of difference. As an old writing teacher used to quote, it's the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.
Foley still remains a creepy degenerate swine who saw the Congressional Page program as his private harem-in-grooming, and deserved to get kicked out on his ass and eyed suspiciously by the general public for the rest of his life. But it's looking more and more like he stopped himself just short of doing anything overtly criminal. He's no Gerry Studds, more like a Gary Condit.
So, how did the story get out, and how did it get out in such an incorrect fashion? Here's one theory, one that seems to fit the available facts.
Someone finds out about Foley's fondness for young men, and his tendency to express that towards Congressional pages. They start gathering up their evidence, but they want it to get out in a way that's not traceable back to them directly. (My suspicion is either a Democratic operative or an independent whose sympathies lie in that direction.) They set up a bogus blog on Blogspot and start talking about sex predators. Then they pretend to get their Foley evidence from an "anonymous reader" and publish it. After that, it's just a matter of waiting for it to be discovered.
But then it isn't discovered. No one notices it. So they have to make sure it's discovered. They shopped it around to a variety of sources, but no one seemed to want to "bite."
Then they realize that this red meat is just the sort of thing that the slavering attack dogs at Daily Kos would be all over, so they (either directly or through a proxy) post the link to the Foley material that they "discovered" over at Kos. The Kossacks take a quick look (and since it feeds to their prejudices and baser instincts) and run like hell with it. With the compression of the news cycle and the instant access to information we have today, Foley is Dead Representative Walking and quits in record time.
It would be very fascinating to see the originating IP of that person who posted it on Kos. Could they be linked back to the bogus blog? Or was it someone at one of the organizations offered the information, and disagreed with the decision to ignore it? The Kos people, who are paranoid (and rightly so) about getting set up, first thought the "WHInternNow" person who linked to the bogus blog in the first place.
I'm not holding my breath, though. That action would require Kos and his Kossacks to act like responsible netizens, and that is a very foreign concept to them. I suspect they did a quick check to see if they could pin it on a conservative, then assured themselves they'd done an adequate job of fact-checking the matter.
The person who exposed Foley did the right thing, but it's starting to look more and more like they did it in the wrong way. This has the signatures of a "political hit," carefully timed and arranged to do the maximum political damage to the Republican party very close to the election. That means that instead of exposing Foley and his deviant ways as soon as they could, the let him continue posing a potential threat to young men until the timing suited the exposer's agenda -- and that is utterly despicable. Had Foley actually committed any overt acts against an underaged person during that time, the exposer would have shared in the moral responsibility for allowing it to happen.
So, to sum up: Foley is a loathsome scumbag, and deserves public scorn and suspicion for the rest of his days. The person who exposed him did the nation a favor by doing so. But if -- IF -- that person sat on the information until such time as suited their own political agenda, then they, too, ought to be held up for public contempt.
They remind me of the firefighter who, in order to be seen as a hero, starts fires that he can then extinguish -- or, in this case, let the fire get more intense before rushing to the rescue. There's a reason we lock those people up, instead of giving them medals.