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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Forrest Gump's mother had it right. Go figure.

What about Mark Foley being a pedophile didn't the Republican House leadership get? And what about the House leadership's personal moral responsibility for the protection of minors did the party of family values and personal responsibility also not understand?

The Republicans have been frantically looking for excuses and targets so they can deflect blame from themselves for this scandal. They've been spinning this faster than my head spins after too much Pinot Noir.

According to this report from David Corn, Republican strategists were divided over whether to blame Democrats for leaking it as an "October Surprise," which Newt Gingrich suggested last week on NPR, or to go after gay Republican Hill staffers, the so-called “Velvet Mafia,” for protecting Foley and then engineering his downfall. In fact, a list of gay House staffers has been going around Washington, DC and Corn claims to have a copy. He also refused to divulge it.

But here's what he does say about the list:

"What's interesting about The List--which includes nine chiefs of staffs, two press secretaries, and two directors of communications--is that (if it's acucurate) it shows that some of the religious right's favorite representatives and senators have gay staffers helping them advance their political careers and agendas. These include Representative Katherine Harris and Henry Hyde and Senators Bill Frist, George Allen, Mitch McConnell and Rick Santorum. Should we salute these legislators for being open-minded enough to have such tolerant hiring practices? After all, Santorum in a 2003 AP interview compared homosexuality to bestiality, incest and polygamy. It would be rather big of Santorum to employ a fellow who engages in activity akin to such horrors. That is, if Santorum knows about his orientation. "

Corn then goes on to claim that Republicans are afraid that if they harp too much on how many family values candidates have gay staffers in their employ they run the risk of angering their values voting constituents. Besides this constituency's ideological revulsion for gays anyway, it already hasn't escaped their notice that despite all the politically correct rhetoric coming from their representatives, few of their pet issues have ever actually become the law of the land. The Republican Congress has been better at bringing home the bacon to their corporate donors and big bucks contributors than they've been at delivering to the religious right. They've managed to give tax breaks, laws protecting off shoring, perks for oil companies all gift wrapped with nice little bows. But they failed to give the religious right the federal Constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. They haven't made much of a dent on pro-life issues (though that could change with the new Supreme Court). But over the years, religious conservatives have expressed dissatisfaction and threatened to desert the Republican Party because of the party's lack of success at getting the social issues legislation so important to them passed.

So, if those values voters see how many of their congressmen's staffers are actually gay they may begin to wonder if that may be the reason for their lack of success at advancing their social agenda. And they may also begin to wonder how many of these politicians whom they've supported with their money, their time, and their votes are true believers and how many have just been talking the talk while taking them for a ride.

So, the narrative that a cabal of gay Hill staffers knew and protected Foley is not a good target. The boomerang's too dangerous.

Unfortunately, venal Democrats who knew about Foley's behavior all along and hid it until it was strategically valuable to them also won't work. And it's their own fault. This group of Republicans has been so partisan and has marginalized their Democratic colleagues for so many years that it's legendary how out of the loop the Democrats are in this Congress. They've gleefully kept Democrats out of every loop on every issue for so long that they just don't have any plausible deniability on this one.

Nope. The public gets it that on this one they can't claim Democrats share their guilt for a cover up. This is a Republican scandal through and through. And it's not about the sex, not about the gay issue. It's the cover up.

Foley is gone. But Hastert is not only still around but he's still refusing to take any responsibility and the rest of them are still in denial. And that's the Republicans' real problem. That and, of course, protecting a pedophile and sexual predator.

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