parents of a 16-year-old Congressional page contacted their congressman,
Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.).
Alexander says he contacted both Rep. Tom
Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chair of the National Republican Congressional
Committee, and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) who oversees the page program.
Reps. Shimkus, Reynolds, and House Majority
Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) admit they knew about it in 2005.
Kirk Fordham, Reynolds’ former chief of
staff, told the Associated Press that three years ago, he had “more than
one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of
Representatives to intervene.”
Reynolds and Boehner say they told Rep.
Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), speaker of the house. Hastert says Reynolds may
have told him about it, but he doesn’t remember.
At no time, did anyone contact police or the
FBI. Their concerns for justice were shallow; their fears that a scandal
would affect their re-elections were deep.
The conservative Washington Times and
several major conservative columnists have called for Hastert to resign.
For his part, President George W. Bush says
he supports Hastert, doesn’t want him to resign, and called him a “father,
teacher, coach who cares about the children of this country.” Almost as an
afterthought, he said he was “dismayed and shocked.”
What President Bush was “dismayed and
shocked” about were the actions of Mark Foley, a Republican congressman
from Florida. The President apparently wasn’t dismayed or shocked about
the cover-up the Republican leadership undertook to keep the information
from the public, the contacts with Foley to warn him about his conduct,
and their failure to discipline one of their members.
The story broke in early September when a
relatively new blog,
Sex Predators, reported that Foley, a six-term congressman who was
co-chair of Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, had sent sexually
explicit e-mails and text messages to the 16-year old male Congressional
page. Within two weeks, ABC-TV’s Brian Ross, and then the rest of the
nation’s major media, picked up the story. The day after Ross’s first
report, Foley resigned. Subsequent reporting revealed that Foley may have
had other inappropriate contacts, dating back to at least 2003.
Trying to spin his own actions, Foley said
when he was a teenager he had been abused by a member of the clergy; he
now admits he’s gay, and has checked himself into an alcoholic
rehabilitation facility. As for Reps. Alexander, Shimkus, Reynolds,
Boehner, and Hastert, and dozens of other Republicans who knew of the
problem, they shuffled and wobbled, but never acknowledged why they didn’t
take immediate action at least six months earlier.
Spinning and diverting, Hastert is blaming
liberals for their reporting of the scandal; others have dug through the
archives to find that 23 years earlier a Democratic congressman was
censured for having sex with a 17-year-old page. (On the other side of the
aisle, and not reported by the Republicans, a Republican congressman that
year had sex with a 17-year-old female page.) Many screeched out about
former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and a rendezvous he had in 1988 with a
woman on a boat called “Monkey Business,” and of Ted Kennedy, MaryJo
Kopechne, and the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, hoping to cloud the
blame for their own problems.
Conservative Republicans devoutly proclaim
themselves the party of “Family Values.” They want the people to believe
they have been anointed with divine wisdom, sacred trust, and the key to
the Holy Morality. Democrats and liberals, they decree, are sin-spewing
heathens. But, truth is not on their side.
Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.), homophobic
founder of Young Americans for Freedom and the American Conservative
Union, and a darling of the Christian Coalition, lost his House seat in
1980 after disclosures that he solicited sex with a 16-year-old gay male;
Bauman two years later acknowledged he was gay. Donald Lukens (R-Ohio) was
sentenced to jail for having sex with a minor. The list of local and state
Republican officials who were arrested and convicted of pedophilia or
other sex crimes would choke even the most forgiving defense attorney.
But, let’s just look at the family values of some of the Republicans
recently elected or re-elected to federal office.
The list of “family values” Republicans who
committed adultery, but continued to preach a doctrine of morality in
government, would fill the telephone book of a small city. Among them are
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), and former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), who were
leaders of the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton;
former presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas); former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.); former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), whom
the Republicans planned to vote into office in 1999 as Gingrich’s
successor, but whose career came unraveled by his admission of “marital
infidelities”; Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), who had a five-year extramarital
affair with a woman 35 years his junior and who later accused him of
repeated assaults; and former Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho), who told the
Spokane Spokesman-Review that God pardoned her sins.
Chenoweth was a “two-fer,” committing both
sexual and legal sins. While her campaign strategy was loaded with
rhetoric about family values and morals, she accepted illegal campaign
contributions and then failed to disclose receipt of more than $50,000 for
her 1994 campaign. She served three terms before deciding not to run for a
fourth term in 2000. Rep. Randall (Duke) Cunningham (R-Calif.), a
seven-term Congressman, who accepted $2.4 million in bribes, pled guilty
to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and tax evasion. Rep. Tom DeLay
(R-Texas), an 11-term congressman, was first forced to resign as House
majority leader after being indicted on charges he conspired to violate
Texas state election laws; amid growing evidence of financial and ethical
irregularities over several years, DeLay resigned from the House in April
The Republicans, whose “big tent” campaign
rhetoric apparently still doesn’t include many minorities, is represented
by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). Lott resigned as Senate majority leader in
December 2002 after praising segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.),
suggesting that if Thurmond had been elected president on the Dixiecrat
ticket in 1948, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years.”
Lott -- who opposed the Voting Right Act and voted against creating Martin
Luther King Day -- recently asked, “Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do
they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.”
The Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal touched
mostly Republicans, with one White House official charged with obstructing
a federal investigation.
And there’s George W. Bush, Dick Cheney,
Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and John Ashcroft/Ambrose Gonzales,
whose six-year reign is pepper-shot with lies and violations of even the
most basic codes of ethics. They are the cabal that had nodded off prior
to the al-Qaeda attack upon the United States, and then lied to the people
prior to launching an invasion of Iraq, which had no ties to the 9/11
plot, no ties to al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, and no weapons of
The Administration has also diverted,
according to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, about $700
million from the war in Afghanistan and the search for Osama bin Laden to
prepare for the invasion of Iraq. They awarded a no-bid $7 billion
contract to Halliburton, which is now accused of war profiteering,
diversion of funds, and numerous other questionable, illegal, or immoral
practices. Billions of other taxpayer-funded dollars went to other
companies that are major contributors to Republican candidates.
On domestic issues, the Bush–Cheney
Administration has violated the environment, and disregarded health care
and the working class, while holding the pursuit of obscene profits to be
their personal god. They have encouraged the use of torture to gain
information from even the remotest of suspects, and have refused to give
suspects a fair trial. They have created fake news releases, bribed
journalists, released secret information about a CIA agent in retaliation
for her husband speaking out against Bush’s war in Iraq, illegally hacked
into confidential Democrat strategy files, illegally spied upon both
American citizens and the United Nations, invaded innumerable
Constitutionally-protected personal rights of privacy, suppressed freedom
of _expression, and instilled fear as justification for its actions.
Perhaps they should no longer be called “neocons,” but Vegomatic
Republicans since they believe they have a divine right to slice, dice,
and chop the Bill of Rights.
Sanctimoniously proclaiming themselves
piously religious and patriotic, they have forsaken both the Bible and the
Constitution. George W. Bush, when asked if he had consulted his father
prior to the invasion of Iraq, devoutly declared that he had spoken to his
“higher father.” His actions prove that he has abandoned both his heavenly
father and this nation’s forefathers. So much for honoring thy father.
The salacious “family values” Republicans
have become the party of right-wing righteous indignation. But the closest
any of them will come to righteousness is their fervent prayers for
something tumultuous to happen so the media and the public forget these
latest elephant-sized transgressions.
Other Articles by Walter Brasch
* The Bush
Magical Mystery Political Capital Tour