Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Another obsolete narrative
Although the conventional wisdom narrative of the Mark Foley affair hasn't been established yet, certain elements of it are starting to take shape. One of these treats the reprehensible actions of the House Republican leadership in covering up for Foley as something brought about by this election cycle. This ignores the indications that they have known about his improper communication with pages--or rumors that, if investigated, would have led them to know about the communication--for years.

As I've mentioned before, people like the cyclic or pendulum metaphor of politics and treat it as if it was a law of nature, even though it is not. One version of this comforting story is an organic narrative of the life cycle of corruption.

According to this narrative, when one party self-destructs through hubris, corruption, and an over-abundance of power, the voters rise up and replace them with the other party. That other party enters power with a moral purity gained through their Christ-like time in the wilderness. Their purity and idealism remain intact for a time, but soon the temptations of power begin to wear them down. They make deals with the devil in order to maintain their grip on power. They become increasingly arrogant and reckless until, finally, their corruption is so blatant and unashamed that the voters rise up and replace them with the other party, now made pure by its time in the wilderness.

We can see this narrative at work in the many pundits who make the observation that the Republicans have managed to become unbearably corrupt in twelve years whereas it took the Democrats fifty years to get that corrupt. The flaw in this narrative is not in the "power corrupts" side of the equation, but rather in the "suffering ennobles" side. Those who crave power, whether they are trying to keep it or gain it, are equally likely to make deals with the devil. No one is immune to temptation.

In interviews with ABC News and The Washington Post, former pages have said that they were warned to be careful around Foley as far back as 1995. What's significant about the year 1995? That's the year that the Republicans took power in the House in the Gingrich revolution. That's the year Mark Foley was first sent to the House. Within their first year in power Foley was revealed as a problem.

While we might not be able to prove that this or that Republican knew about Foley, it's highly unlikely that his actions could have continued and that the rumors could have been common knowledge among the pages with out at least one Republican congressman having heard them. What's more likely is that the Republicans have been determined to hang on to power since the day they first grasped it their hands. It's likely that many of those same Republicans who tried to impeach Clinton for his affairs were also protecting a child predator in their midst.

The Republicans didn't just recently become corrupt and decide to protect Mark Foley in order to keep his seat in the 2006 election; they have been corrupt since day one and have been turning a blind eye to rumors of his behavior since day one.

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