By now, anyone reading this knows that Florida representative Mark Foley has resigned his positions because he sent naughty emails to, and engaged in naught IM chats with, young congressional pages.
I have to be honest, I hate sex scandals of any sort. My immediate reaction is always that, as Woody Allen once said, "The heart wants what the heart wants," and my social libertarian leanings always push me towards ignoring sexual behavior, even if that behavior falls outside the boundaries of what I'd allow for myself. I am way more, "live and let live," than most people.
The pages are minors, though. I believe in total freedom for consentint adults, but not between adults and impressionable minors. Congressional pages are high school students working on capitol hill.
There's some question, though, about what the age of consent in Washington D.C. is. But not question enough to get Foley off the hook. Turns out, though the age of consent there is 16, that there are provisions in the law that prevent a full-fledged adult like Foley from going after teenagers. Such provisions are in place in order to prevent teen-on-teen sex from being a criminal offence, while still keeping adults away from children.
But... Foley didn't actually, so far as we know, and based on his claims, ever actually lay a hand on a minor. He engaged in naughty chat, he teased, he even asked for it, for he never actually did it.
Now, he's in therapy and rehab for alcoholism. Let's wish him the best in that. It's the proper place for him.
As a matter of the 2006 elections, where I'd like to see the Democrats take the House and Senate, Foley's follies are good news for me. It especially helps that the Republican leadership seems to have known there was a problem, but didn't do anything about it. House Speaker Denny Hastert might well have put out that fire by simply saying, "I knew, I tried, but didn't do enough." Instead, he dissembled, Now, he's in peril too. Politically, I react to such news with a mixture of glee and hope.
But, much as I defended Bill Clinton during his impeachment, I hate the villification of Foley right now. Sure, the situations are not identical. Monica Lewinsky was a full fledged adult. That makes a world of difference.
I just hate when sex intersects with politics. It's not a healthy thing for either party. Foley is out of congress and in therapy, which is where he should be. But let's not hang the election on this. There are bigger issues, as far as I'm concerned.