Friday, October 06, 2006

Another Double Standard

One shouldn't excuse Mark Foley's bad behavior by pointing to other representative’s bad behavior in the past, however the idea of Dennis Hastert resigning his post is utterly ridiculous. Especially considering that there is no evidence that Hastert even knew about the e-mails that Foley sent which were sexual in nature.

Foley deserved what he got, but guys like Barney Frank, Mel Reynolds and Gary Studds deserved far worse than the forgiveness and presidential pardons, which they ultimately received.

The Redder They Are, The Harder They Fall
Republicans More Damaged by Scandals

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; Page C01

Sex scandals involving politicians are as old as Thomas Jefferson, but the outcome seems to depend on which party you represent. In recent years, for the most part, Democrats have been able to survive their sordid escapades while Republicans have paid with their political lives.

The latest example: Mark Foley, a Republican congressman from Florida, who abruptly became an ex-congressman from Florida last week amid revelations that he had sent sexually explicit e-mails to teenage boys who were serving as House pages.

Foley's creepy behavior might have done him in even if he'd been the most liberal of Democrats. But that's not assured. With a Republican at the center of the seamy scandal, however, it was almost a slam-dunk that Foley would have to quit.

That's how it usually turns out for members of the conservative, traditional-family-values party. Just ask Bob Livingston, Jack Ryan, Bob Packwood, Dan Crane or others in the GOP who've watched their careers go pffft! with salacious disclosures. Or ask Bill Clinton, Gerry Studds, Barney Frank and other Democrats who've withstood embarrassing revelations to govern another day. Consider, for example:

· Packwood, from Oregon, resigned his Senate seat in 1995 amid repeated allegations that he had sexually harassed women. A few years earlier, Rep. Jim Bates, a Democrat from the San Diego area, faced similar allegations by two female staffers. Bates refused to resign and won reelection (he eventually lost his seat to Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who ran into his own ethics problems last year, and resigned after being convicted of bribery).

· In 1998, Livingston won the Republican Party's blessing to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House. But Livingston, of Louisiana, never served a day in the job. He was sunk by revelations that he'd had an extramarital affair, a disclosure that carried the additional baggage of hypocrisy since, at the time, Livingston was leading the Republican impeachment of President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton, of course, ultimately survived impeachment.

· Rep. Thomas Evans (R-Del.) was voted out of office in 1982 after he publicly regretted his "association" with a lobbyist named Paula Parkinson, who later posed for Playboy; Evans and two other Republican House members (including one named Dan Quayle) had shared a Florida cottage with Parkinson on a junket. Contrast this to the reaction to allegations of an affair between Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.) and Tai Collins, a former Miss Virginia. Robb claimed that Collins had only given him a back rub in a hotel room. Robb won reelection three years later.

· The clearest illustration may be in the divergent outcomes of the cases against Crane (R) and Studds (D) in 1983. Both men were censured by the House for having sex with underage congressional pages -- Crane with a 17-year-old girl in 1980, Studds with a 17-year-old boy in 1973. Crane, of Illinois, apologized for his actions, while Studds, who declared he was gay, refused. Crane lost his reelection bid the next year; Studds, of Massachusetts, kept winning his seat until he retired in 1996.

A double standard? And if so, by whom?

"The reality is that Democrats seem to get away with more," says Chuck Todd, editor in chief of the Hotline, a daily political journal. "They can have an affair and bail [themselves] out. There's a lower threshold for Republicans. I guess it's more of a hypocrisy thing," he adds, because such scandals put Republicans at odds with the party's socially conservative image.

Todd thinks he knows who's to blame for this: "It's the media, to be honest. What is the standard 'gotcha' story in the media? It's hypocrisy. If we can prove hypocrisy, we have a story. . . . So in a sex scandal, the bar for Republicans is lower."

He cites the case of Jack Ryan, the Illinois Republican whose bid for the Senate was derailed in 2004 when his wife, actress Jeri Ryan, alleged in divorce papers that he had taken her to sex clubs and had asked her to engage in sexual activity in front of other patrons. "What's amazing is that his candidacy hit the wall not because he had sex, but because he was thinking about having sex," says Todd.

But it's tough to blame the media when it's the electorate that determines who stays and who goes.

In Studds's case, he happened to represent a liberal (and apparently quite forgiving) district, while Crane came from a conservative rural district. Ditto with Barney Frank, who was reelected in his liberal Massachusetts district after it was revealed that he hired a male prostitute in 1985 to work in his District apartment, and the young man used the apartment to run a prostitution service. Clinton, meanwhile, was elected president twice, which may have had something to do with his ability to survive the storm over alleged extramarital affairs.

"A scandal's a scandal and the media will jump on it, no matter what party," notes Michael Farquhar, author of "A Treasury of Great American Scandals." On the other hand, notes Farquhar, a reporter who is on leave from The Post, "there's probably that extra twinge of delight [in the media] when, say, a gay-bashing Republican gets caught soliciting sex in a men's room, or a pious espouser of family values sleeps with his secretary."

There are exceptions, of course. A few Democrats have lost their jobs as a result of scandals. Wayne Hays, a Democrat from Ohio, resigned his House seat in 1976 after the disclosure of his affair with Elizabeth Ray, the curvaceous blonde who "worked" in Hays's office despite no evident secretarial skills. Gary Hart, who famously dared reporters to follow him around to prove he was squeaky clean, blew up as a Democratic presidential candidate in 1984 after reporters found him leaving a Capitol Hill townhouse after spending the night with a woman not his wife. And Gary Condit, a conservative Democrat from Modesto, Calif., lost his seat in 2002 following saturation coverage of his relationship with murdered intern Chandra Levy.

It's also true that Wilbur Mills, the powerful Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the 1970s, lost his chairmanship after cavorting in the Tidal Basin with Fanne Foxe, "the Argentine Firecracker."

What's forgotten, however, is that Mills won reelection after his Tidal Basin romp; he was stripped of his chairmanship only after he appeared on a stage in Boston with Foxe, apparently drunk. House Democrats demanded his resignation, and got it.

While some Conservatives have turned on Hastert in order to win their own elections and bolster the party's chances in the upcoming elections, Democratic party chair Howard Dean has taken this mess and used it to bash Hastert and to imply that the GOP is not good for children. That's election year politics at its worst and raises the question: When did the Democratic leadership start taking sex scandals seriously?

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Anonymous said...

you are so factually wrong. Name one of the 3 mentioned at the beginning of this blog who receiving "presidential pardons" OR who'se scandal was covered up by the leadership.

Please provide those VERY SIMPLE facts (I assume since you have made the statements you have taken the time to fact-check).

I like how the GOP response is "Foley is bad....BUT."

Personally, I find it so incredibly offensive that we have people saying "well democrats have done bad stuff too" as the argument.

A MEMBER OF CONGRESS WENT AFTER (THE COUNT IS UP TO 6) 16 YEAR OLDS!! How you can sit there and say "well democrats are bad too" as your only response, is simply disgraceful.

I hope for your own credibility, you remove this particular post.


Anonymous said...

anonymous suzie:

Yes, A MEMBER OF CONGRESS WENT AFTER 16 YEAR OLDS!! Went after but did not have sex with 16 years olds.

AND A MEMBER OF CONGRESS WENT AFTER 17 YEAR OLDS - Congressman Gary Studds. Studds sexually propositioned pages and actually had sex with a 17 year old male page whom he took on a trip overseas.

So where was the big flap about Studds? And Lordy, Lordy... he was REPEATEDLY re-elected.

Dan is not responding to Foley's actions with "Dems are bad too" - everyone agrees that he is a first class schmuck - he is simply pointing out the double standard at work. You think that's disgraceful? You're wound a little too tight around the axle if you ask me.

Falling Panda said...

Mel Renyolds was the one that I know of who recieved a pardon from president Clinton.

Anonymous said...

here's your answer Dan - because we're the wild free-for-all fuckfest party. We don't pretend to stand for silly things like "family values."

A Functionally Illiterate Parakeet said...

They didn't see the explicit IMs because they didn't want to look for them. The leadership knew there were issues surronding Foley, but when he wanted to resign in 2004 they convinced him to run again to preserve the seat.

Republican leaders were more concerned with political power then protecting children. When you see smoke, you at least check to make sure there isn't a fire.

Falling Panda said...

First off, I have never heard that foley wanted to resign in 2004, anywhere. You may want to cite that for me.
Next, the seat is in a safely Republican district. They would have held it even if Foley had left. Only now is it in danger of falling into the hands of the Democrats.

A Functionally Illiterate Parakeet said...

Here's a Chicago Sun-Times article detailing how in 2006 (well after Reynolds was aware of Foley's problems) Foley was begged to run again.,CST-EDT-novak08.article

Also, a GOP member saw some of the explicit IM chats as early as 2000.

Republicans made a contract with America and they've broken it. Instead of balancing the budget we've taked 3 trillion more on. Instead of cleaning up DC corruption we have Abramoff and Foley. Instead of reducing the size and intrusiveness of government...

Falling Panda said...

You do realize that by using the $3 Trillion number rather than the more often cited $250 billion dollar amount of the deficit, you can no longer say that President Clinton balanced the budget as Democrats so often claim.

The Novak article seems to confirm the part of yur post where you said that the GOP urged Foley to run again, but not because they wanted to preserve the seat as you implied. Again, the seat was safely Reublican until now.

As for Hastert, the best you can do is assume that he was aware of sexually explicit e-mails. The evidence that we have now does not confrim this.

A Functionally Illiterate Parakeet said...

Well, since several different sources confirm that Hassert was aware of Foley's creepy interactions with underage pages I think it's pretty safe to assume that he knew there was a potential problem.

I know assuming makes an ass out of u and me, but not taking the time to investigate when there's suspicions of phedophillia makes you a cocksucker.