Thursday, October 05, 2006

Denny, You're Doing A Heck of A Job

Former Representative Mark Foley seen entering rehab yesterday.

(For our overseas chums who may not follow the minutae of American domestic politics, a good precis and continuing coverage of the Foley Scandal can be found here).

As the Foley story moved forward yesterday and the revelations kept piling up it was almost inevitable that the President would have to step forward and outline the White House's position on the matter, not least because the Republicans are in real danger of alienating a significant proportion of their conservative base over the antics of the sex-text congressman. And as always in these situations, Mr. Bush showed his natural inclination to shower the incompetent and cowardly with praise or promotion rather than use the bully pulpit to demand adult behaviour and higher standards of his colleagues. Once again, political damage limitation has been placed above the people's right to effective and selfless governance. Hardly the approach one would expect from the government of MBAs and CEOs we were promised as a replacement for the Friends of Bill in 2000.

Faced with mounting evidence that Dennis Hastert (the speaker of the house) knew that Foley was the sort of chap that wrote on toilet walls and tossed off on park benches while dreaming of teenaged boys several years before this story finally broke, President Bush did what he always does and made a point of fulsomely and vacuously praising the Speaker;

"“I know Denny Hastert. He is a father, teacher, coach, who cares about the children of this country. I know that he wants all the facts to come out, and he wants to ensure that these children up there on Capitol Hill are protected.”

I know a President needs allies on the hill to help him get legislation passed, but one would think he needs a Republican majority more and thus could probably do without metaphorically putting his arm around this craven lard tub who can only further weaken the image of the GOP. Not that I object to that, by any means. But back to the key point of praise in the President's statement:

"I know Denny Hastert. He is a father, teacher, coach, who cares about the children of this country."

I'm glad Mr. Bush included "coach"; that must be the key to Hastert's caring "about the children of this country" and an example of his moral probity. Or perhaps not; perhaps as a class coaches are not exempt from corrupt practices. How about "teacher"? Hmm. Again, maybe not. What about fatherhood? Surely that's the key to a moral life? How about this father?

I'm not suggesting that coaches, fathers, or teachers are more inclined to evil than anyone else. However these roles are not enough alone to endow moral authority on someone. I would have prefered to hear the President say "Speaker Hastert acted swiftly to end contact between Foley and the pages as soon as he was informed of the problem and he contacted the appropriate authorities". But no.

For all the swagger and machismo of American politics nobody in DC seems willing to be a man in these situations. When was the last resignation from our body politic based on principle rather than on being caught you can remember?


FlyingRodent said...

Every so often a story comes along that's so perfect, so sublimely humorous that all one can do is laugh and laugh and laugh.

Really, this one can only get better from now on.

weasel said...

Maybe we'll find out that on a congressional junket to London Foley chased young Guardsmen through the bushes in Green Park a la Tom Driberg.

Filthy buggers, the lot of them.