Washington, D.C. is an open cesspool. If you watch the local news in the evening, the first three stories will invariably be about people who have been shot, often for reasons unknown. Add to that the fact that the shooters have adopted a fresh approach in using their weapons: multiple shots, usually to the head. This often results, as one might expect, in a fatality. Add to these stories the crime activity in the nearest Maryland suburb, Prince George’s County, and you might end up with as many as five fatalities in a single newscast.

A motorist is told to surrender his car. He complies and is shot in the head several times. An individual leaving a bank is told to hand over his wallet. He complies and…..bang, bang, bang. So the advice of an earlier time, “do what the gunman says,” is passe. In the District of Columbia and neighboring Prince George’s County Maryland, to be robbed is to die.

Now what has this to do with former representative Mark Foley of Florida? The defrocked congressman is in the news because of his alleged sexual stalking of young male congressional assistants, known as pages. His sexually explicit Internet messages with several of the pages have now been published worldwide. But since he has resigned, he has escaped punishment by his peers. Congress can only impose penalties on current members of Congress.

What Foley’s salacious conduct has done is to add to the litany of the daily cycle of crimes in the nation’s capital (murder, mayhem, rape, robbery, kidnaping, assault, credit card theft, etc.) an additional evil act of Foley’s attempted seduction of young male pages via Internet correspondence. If you were an anxious parent worried about sending 16-year old Bobby to live in crime-ridden D.C., the tawdry deeds of Mark Foley could pretty much put you over the edge.

Republicans have predictably marginalized Foley’s deeds. After all, he did resign didn’t he? Shouldn’t we forget about him and concentrate on the Iraq war, Social Security, oil prices, the cost of owning a home, etc.? What’s done is done and, after all, the legal age of consent in D.C. is sixteen. So even if Foley did bugger one or more of these well-groomed young men, according to the law he may be guilty of being creepy, but not necessarily of a criminal offense.

However, what this obscure congressman from Florida did achieve was to create a fire storm just four short weeks from a national election. It is also too late to remove his name from the ballet, creating an unknown and potentially damaging combination of circumstances for the Republicans on election day. Indeed, some Republicans are accusing the Democrats of orchestrating dirty tricks slightly more than a month before voters go to the polls.

There’s one more sordid piece of irony to this story. Foley was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus. As recently as July he introduced, with a straight face, legislation to protect minors from abuse and exploitation by adults over the Internet. If you’re ever asked to cite an example of irony, this is it.

Born in Massachusetts, Foley moved at an early age to Florida. There he graduated from high school and “attended” Palm Beach Community College. Not the most impressive resume for someone who presumed to run for the U.S. Senate in 2003, but withdrew his name when rumors surfaced that he was gay. He refused comment on this gossip and attributed his withdrawal to his parents’ need for special care.-

– Chase.Hamil

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