October 3, 2006

Foley: The Political Sitcom's Season Premier

Justin Katz

For more than a year, now, I've been directing conversations with my politically-interested friends toward an issue that has concerned me as one who has found (very) modest success as a socio-political writer: my growing disinterest in the political debate du jour.

A prominent experiential example: I used to check the Corner two to five times per hour. Now, although I don't believe that the quality of the writers or the written has gone down, I find myself increasingly surprised at the topics that the punditentia is discussing. At this moment, two-and-a-half hours and roughly 3,000 words worth of Corner posts are about Mark Foley.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan, another must-read during the days of the Bronze Age of blogging, who once lanced from his chariot the idea that the Catholic Church's pedophilia scandals had anything whatsoever to do with homosexuality (what's the difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia, again?) is casting about such rhetoric as this:

But closeted gay men are particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing. Your psyche is so split by decades of lies and deceptions and euphemisms that integrity and mental health suffer. No one should excuse Foley's creepy interactions; they are inexcusable, as is the alleged cover-up (although we shouldn't jump to conclusions yet about who knew what when). But there's a reason gay men in homophobic institutions behave in self-destructive ways.

Or think of it another way: what do the Vatican and the RNC have in common? Here's one potential list: entrenched homophobia, psychologically damaged closet cases, inappropriate behavior toward teens and minors ... and cover-ups designed entirely to retain power.

Here's the thing about politics — at least for me: when it begins to feel like a game, it also begins to feel like callous and even malicious manipulation. Maybe I'm just suffering from scandal fatigue... do we really need two or three per primetime season?

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Hey bud,

I hate scandals too. That's why I wish Foley hadn't committed statutory abuse IN THE CAPITOL.

This one ain't manufactured rage. If this isn't wrong, what is?

Antoine Sol

Posted by: A. Sol at October 4, 2006 8:34 AM

Hey bud,

I hate scandals too. That's why I wish Foley hadn't committed statutory abuse IN THE CAPITOL.

This one ain't manufactured rage. If this isn't wrong, what is?

Antoine Sol

Posted by: A. Sol at October 4, 2006 8:34 AM


Here in RI, and perhaps nationally as well, I think the problem you describe goes well beyond the sense that politics has become a game. Rather, I think more and more people feel a deep sense of frustration with what I call the "Latin Americanization" of our politics.

When I lived in Latin America, I saw political cultures that were driven by a deep sense of "us versus them" material resentment. The more populist "have not" parties would struggle to gain control of government, with the goal of using the power of the state to stick it to the "oligarchs" and redistribute their wealth, first to the populist leaders themselves, and then the remainder to their followers (or, to put it another way, to distribute enough to them so that they remained their followers). On the other side, the oligarchs tended to spend what they needed to buy enough politicians to minimize the damage from this process. And there were plenty of politicians whose votes were for sale. The economic results produced by these political system are testimony to its cancerous impact.

It goes without saying that RI resembles this picture more than any of our leaders would like to admit. However, what it truly disheartening is how much the U.S. Federal Government also seems to have moved in this direction, as evidenced not only by recent scandals, but also by the explosion of registered lobbyists in DC over the last 25 years.

The only unanswered, and perhpas unanswerable question is where these trends are leading. Most likely not to a place most of us want to go.

Posted by: John at October 4, 2006 11:36 AM


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Posted by: asol@gmail.com at October 4, 2006 12:32 PM

A. Sol,

See my response to your multiple personalities in the subsequent post.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 4, 2006 6:18 PM

What are you, a member of the gestapo? Do you hide behind your ownership of the blog when you know the dirt against your boy is so filthy, depraved, vile, and repellant that it's impossible to deny?

Posted by: Shetty Ed at October 4, 2006 7:08 PM