The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Greg Saunders: "Playing Politics" With Predatorgate on Yahoo! News

Greg Saunders: "Playing Politics" With Predatorgate

Greg SaundersMon Oct 2, 11:51 AM ET

Andrew Sullivan is resorting to his usual "both sides are awful, but I'm above the fray" act with the GOP cover-up scandal.Here's Mark Levin with the Foley talking points from the RNC. Here's another Republican argument that this is all about Democrat-MSM dirty tricks. Meanwhile, there's some O-Reilly-esque harrumphing from partisan Democrats. Both sides' eagerness to exploit this for political point-scoring make me a litte queasy.The original post has two links, both to Republican defenses. I'd think if this was such a balanced situation ("both sides' eagerness"), Andy could have provided at least one link to the "harrumphing" that's making him so queasy. On the left, I've seen bloggers careful to point out that the age of consent in DC is 16, that Foley's conduct may not be criminal, and that his sexual misconduct doesn't fit the textbook definition of "pedophilia". Is playing the devil's advocate the sort of thing that Sully considers "O-Reilly-esque"?

But let's go back and look at the record here. GOP leaders have known about Mark Foley's specific misbehavior for almost a year, but made a point of informing only their fellow Republicans. That's just in regards to the emails and IMs we've seen, but there are reports that they've been warning Congressional pages for at least five years and that the list of victims includes at least 3-5 other teenage boys so far. Through all of this, Democrats have been kept completely out of the loop, lest this be used to hurt Republicans politically. Yes, this situation has become "politicized", but it was being exploited for political gain long before Democrats even heard about it.

And let's not fall into the trap of thinking the GOP leadership's new-found conscience is based on anything more than covering their asses before the election. Just as they've done in the Jack Abramoff scandal, the GOP is desperate to turn this into a "both sides are equally guilty" situation, which explains why Hastert, who desperately tried to sweep Foley's sexual misconduct under the rug, is suddenly eager to cast such a wide net.Therefore, I also request that the Department undertake an investigation into who had specific knowledge of the content of any sexually explicit communications between Mr. Foley and any former or current House pages and what actions such individuals took, if any, to provide them to law enforcement. I request that the scope of your investigation include any and all individuals who may have been aware of this matter-be they Members of Congress, employees of the House of Representatives, or anyone outside the Congress.If Hastert was so desperate to get to the bottom of this mess, he would have done something last year. This isn't an attempt to find the truth, it's a fishing expedition. The GOP is desperate to find Democratic complicity and they'll use all the means at their disposal until they can find a Democrat who's heard the rumors about Foley's harassment and is willing to say so on the record. A statement as vague as "Yeah, I heard that guy's a little creepy" would do. At that point they can unveil Talking Point 2.0, "the Democrats didn't tell anyone either".

If that doesn't work, then they'll settle for a variation of the "find the leakers" ploy by harassing the press to reveal their sources. They'll insist that the "leakers" were Democrats who must have known something and were sitting on the information to use as an October surprise. That snipe-hunt just might work if it weren't for the fact that releasing a politically-convenient bombshell isn't morally-equivalent to hiding a sexual predator in your midst and doing nothing to keep them away from children. Even if both are intended to influence an election, there's very little that can compare with the moral swamp that would see a group of powerful men protecting a man who, as we're starting to learn, has a history of sexually harassing underage boys. It doesn't matter how they spin it, what the GOP leadership has done to look after their own interests to the detriment of childrens' safety is despicable.

Going back to Andrew Sullivan's upset stomach, that someone would confuse outrage over this situation for political posturing is just a sad example of how far our country has sunk. There was a time when the right and left could find common ground on basic issues such as..y'know, protecting young people, but the anger on the left (and to be fair, parts of the right) isn't an indicator of partisan hackery (even if it does bode well politically for some of the people expressing their dismay). The troubling signs are in the segments of the right that have instinctively defended Hastert et. al. for their indefensible behavior. Andrew Sullivan and others shouldn't be asking why the lefties are acting with such righteous indignation, but why their outrage isn't mirrored by many "pro-family" conservatives.

Regardless of party, this whole scandal is a sickening example of callous politicians valuing politics over people. Pointing out the depths to which the GOP leadership has sunk isn't an election-year ploy, it's a reiteration of basic human decency. This isn't a "left vs. right" issue, it's a "right vs. wrong" issue. What Denny Hastert and his fellow House members have done to protect Mark Foley is wrong. People should be able to point that out without having their sincerity questioned.;_ylt=Ahc_VkBNkSdvhehLGPaKagAe6sgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-


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