The Edge Effect

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Flavors of Schadenfreude

Here's my $0.02 on the congressional page scandal then I'll be done with it.

There is something truly satisfying about watching the GOP implode no matter what the reason. It is perhaps a bit sweeter that the self-appointed guardians of morality are paralyzed by a sex-related scandal. And I have to say that the media coverage I have seen so far seems to focus more on the fact that the pages involved were minors rather than the fact that they are male; I had not predicted that.

BUT... It is a little bit frustrating to see the death blow for the current election cycle coming from something so tangential to governance. My thoughts on the particular scandal are somewhat complicated. A man in his 50s trolling for teenagers is messed up. But from what I've read, all the boys involved are 16 or above which is age of consent in DC, so the purely legal questions may not be so clear. Any time that a subordinate-superior relationship involves sexual overtones it is improper. For a congresscritter, let alone one involved in child-protection legislation, to use his power to leverage a relationship with a young subordinate is definitely deserving of scandal and punishment. I really don't want to defend any of this.

What irks me is that the Republican party has been handling the legitimate business of government with a deadly combination of incompetence and malice for the past six years. I frankly don't think it's hyperbole to say that the GOP agenda has actively undermined the liberties that the US constitution protects and which make this such a special country. Their party has really been hijacked by some radical elements and become a caricature.

Yet, none of the rapidly compounding evidence to this effect has had much impact. Yes the GOP was in jeopardy of losing congressional majorities in the midterms, but it was still a close call and they were wielding great legislative power just last week. Compared to all of this, Foley's behavior and the House leadership's coverup deserve scorn but seem relatively inconsequential.

If a representative being a lecherous old creep and the House leadership covering it up are what finally bring the reign of error to an end, will they or the nation learn anything? In the 2008 election cycle the narrative will be 'the GOP were a legislative juggernaut until the weakness of one congressman's flesh created a media scandal. Otherwise they were a perfectly legitimate governing body.' I guess somehow it would help my faith in humanity to see people rightly outraged about the Foley scandal, but at least as upset about the erosion of principles of justice that have been with us since the Magna Carta.

Note: As a kid I was both an alter boy and a congressional page at the state level (a much shorter term than the federal pages), but somehow I managed to avoid ever being molested. Am I stinky?