The Foley story has been covered 24x7 by the US media for several days now. The fallout continues apace. Bloggers and media pundits on the left and right are having a hissy fit.
In the US, it seems, sex trumps everything or is it that all other sleazy activities are considered "just normal behaviour" for politicians? My European friends look aghast at the headlines and find it incomprehensible that a sex scandal can galvanise voters so much that it becomes the deciding factor in an election. Lying, cheating, bribery and corruption in government vis
á vis stolen elections, Katrina, Iraq, etc. barely get a headline.
I explain to them the real problem is that Mark Foley was in a position of power. Real power. Acting in a supervisory position to these young people, Foley accepted this role; then he proceeded to violate the trust and responsibility that comes with it. Each young person he came into contact with him was basically placed at the mercy of someone who had a surreptitious agenda. Those whom he found "hot" got his special attention, as can be seen in those instant messages and e-mails. Foley's attorney states he [Foley] has never had any sexual contact with underage kids in the past. But he was obviously attempting to initiate such contact with these male pages. (I've read that some of the male pages caught on to his game and brought female pages along to the dinner meetings.)
Foley's game is the ideal example of the powerful attempting to manipulate the less powerful. Or, in this case, the least powerful in the Congressional milieu - adolescent pages. Sex is an element of such behaviour (and irrespective of that, I still believe that sixteen year-olds are mature and capable enough to make their own decisions and choices about their sexual activities with whomever they choose), but this whole story is really about harrassment, control and manipulation.
And it's about Foley's colleagues in Washington abusing their power in attempting to cover up for his misdeeds, when they knew about them months ago, for some legislators, for nearly a year, before the story broke last Friday.