Saturday, October 07, 2006

No Excuses, Taking Responsibility

All sorts of typical Washington double-speak coming out in the wake of the Foley page scandal. Foley's attorney has insisted that "Mark offers no excuses", yet he's done nothing but offer excuses. Not traditional excuses, of course, but the great excuse of our time: self-pathologizing. Despite clenching shut the closet door for years, now Foley admits to being gay. (As if that's an excuse for being creepy.) And he's also come out as a victim of sexual abuse as a child. (Amazing the timing of those recovered memories.) And of course there's the drinking problem. Self-confessed alcoholism has become the get-out-of-blame-free card de jour. Just ask Mel "I don't hate Jews, it was the whisky talking" Gibson. Sorry, Mr. Foley, but these pathetic ploys to transform disgust into sympathy are rather transparent (not to mention an insult to self-respecting gays, child abuse victims, and genuine self-acknowledged alcoholics).

And then there's the GOP leadership, topped by Dennis Hastert, who accepts full responsibility. Just not the blame. His latest excuse (they've been evolving) is that he only became aware of the most explicit IMs last Friday. So, the ones he heard about a couple of years ago were merely, what, exactly? This is sort of like saying "Back when, I only saw some smoke coming out from under the door. But I didn't realize the whole room was on fire until somebody else opened the door and showed me." There are really only two possibilities here. The leadership saw the "smoke" coming out from under the (closet) door, opened the door, saw the fire, closed the door again, and prayed it would just stay contained. Or they saw the smoke, and looked the other way, not even bothering to open the door. One is only marginally worse than the other. At this point, the most charitable thing one could possibly believe about Hastert is that he's an incompetent manager who missed clear danger signs that should have been followed up on. And even that most charitable assumption is reason enough to step down. (Kudos to Tony Blankley and the Washington Times for holding the high line against their own party on this one.)

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