Mark Foley is back! Maybe. The Republican ex-congressman, who resigned in disgrace in 2006 after revelations that he'd made passes at teenaged congressional pages, is considering a run for the mayor of West Palm Beach.
Lots of folks will gripe, rightly enough, that the last thing the country, the GOP, or the state needs is another crazy-eyed Appalachian trailer with a luggage-carrying problem, a tense back, and a wide stance. But as Foley prepares to crank his campaign into gear, there are three facts that bear remembering.
1. The Pages Were Above the Age of Consent
Really, they were. At least in Washington, D.C. The worst that could be said of Foley's aborted page dalliances is that he hit on a subordinate (which is wrong but not unheard of) and that he attempted to commit adultery (which is ditto).
2. Foley Wasn't Antigay
While in office, Foley actually aligned himself with a fair number of liberal causes, including
opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, as well as legislation banning gay adoption in Washington, D.C. He also supported expanded hate-crime legislation, supported embryonic stem-cell research, and favored (limited) abortion rights. The dude was, in other words, pretty much your average gay politico. (Except he insists he's straight, and he's a Republican.)
3. Foley Really Was Molested by a Priest
And the priest admits
it. Psychologists agree that it's natural enough for adults to want to re-create their earliest sexual experiences, which, in Foley's case, involve trans-generational gropings with a whiff of the illicit. In a kinky way, Foley ought to be commended -- at least in his re-creations, his putative partners were of legal age, and Foley never hid behind the edifice of religion. Ironically, he would have been better off if he had: If he was a priest, he'd have to do
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worse than solicit nudie picks over the internet before running afoul of the authorities, and even then he'd just be reassigned to a new parish.
-- Mark Foley, ladies and gentlemen. A flawed guy with one of the worst public images in American politics and a whopping $1 million in his campaign coffers. According to the Florida
Independent, that's $956,000 more than his closest competitor, Jeri Muoio. If Foley runs, and if Muoio can overcome the funding gap and get some anti-Foley ads on TV, you can bet that we'll see Foley's 2006 scandal portrayed in a very different light.