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The Democrats' pathetic display

By Sharon Smith | October 6, 2006 | Page 4

AT LAST, congressional Democrats have answered critics who claim that they have forgotten how to behave as an opposition party. Party leaders have finally launched a searing attack against a criminal outrage that has gone on for three long years--while vowing to take down Republican leaders responsible for the deception and subsequent cover-up.

These Democrats are finally regaining the moral high ground--miraculously, without sacrificing their unswerving orientation to the Republicans' voting base in this election year.

After all, what sane person doesn't oppose pedophilia?

Ex-House Republican Mark Foley is, of course, drowning in his own hypocrisy. Now Foley's "smoking gun"--the e-mail address "maf54", used for sexual discourse with minors since at least 2003--is set to join the Clinton cigar in historical infamy. Just as President Clinton was likely engaging in extra-marital sex when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, Foley was attempting to seduce under-age boys while he co-chaired the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

In July, President Bush signed the Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, a tough new law against sex offenders--spearheaded by Foley. Now Foley will be required under the terms of the legislation he sponsored to register for life as a sex offender--when he gets out of jail.

The downfall of Foley, who won the first of his six terms in the 1994 Republican electoral sweep helmed by Newt Gingrich's obsession with "family values," might provide the final straw that ends this despicable era.

Politicians of both parties who have imposed punitive "family values" legislation have proved that they do not practice them. Gingrich himself is on his third marriage, having served his first wife with divorce papers during cancer surgery in 1981, in order to wed his mistress. He phoned his second wife on Mother's Day 1999 to request a divorce, in order to marry his next mistress.

The significance of the Foley scandal has not yet registered with the White House, however. When questioned on October 2 about Foley's escapades, White House spokesman Tony Snow dismissed, "I hate to tell you, but...there have been other scandals, as you know, that have been more than simply naughty e-mails."

To be sure, the negligence of Republican powerbrokers in reacting to Foley's foibles has added new meaning to the term "do-nothing Congress." Foley, a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has friends in high places.

Last year, a 16-year old former Congressional page reported to his Louisiana sponsor, Republican Rep. Rodney Alexander, that the 52-year-old Foley's sexually charged e-mails "freaked me out," adding that Foley's request for his photo was "sick, sick, sick, sick, sick."

Alexander did not report this information to the police or FBI, but instead to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), in charge of the Party's 2006 House election campaigns. Reynolds claimed that he informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert of the allegations, yet on September 30, Hastert claimed he did not "recollect" being notified.

The notoriously antigay Newt Gingrich defended the Republican leadership's non-response in an October 1 interview on Fox News Sunday: "I think had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing."

Without for a moment minimizing the vile acts of Mark Foley, it is shameful that congressional Democrats have staked their election-year strategy around opposing the acts of a lone Republican sexual predator, while assisting Republicans in whipping up a bipartisan xenophobic frenzy.

In the final days of this congressional session, 12 Senate Democrats joined 53 Republicans to endorse Bush's anti-terrorism legislation, intended to allow detainee evidence acquired through torture. Twenty-six Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) also joined Republicans to overwhelmingly pass a draconian House bill for construction of a 700-mile wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Once again, voters are left with no choice other than to "kick the bums out," only to be replaced by the bums of the pseudo-opposition party.

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