Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley Sex Scandal: Is He a Gay Man, Or Is He a Pedophile? He Cannot Be Both

Disgraced Florida Ex-Congressman's Lawyer Claims that Foley Admits to Being 'Gay,' But Gay Men Have Relations Only With Men -- Not With Boys -- And There's (So Far) No Evidence That Foley Ever Had Adult Male Companions

By Skeeter Sanders

The lurid sex scandal that has disgraced former Representative Mark Foley (R-Florida) -- and has seriously jeopardized the Republicans' continued control of Congress -- has displayed one ugly truth: That there are still too many people who cannot tell the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia.

The scandal has triggered a firestorm of anger among hard-line social conservatives -- part of the GOP's core constituency -- with some calling for the resignation of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) and others resorting to intemperate anti-gay language.

GOP strategist Bay Buchanan, appearing Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room," called Foley "a known homosexual" in an angry denunciation of House Republican leaders' lack of disciplinary action against Foley when they knew about his indiscretions for nearly a year.

But is Foley really gay? Despite a statement by his attorney early Tuesday evening that Foley has admitted as much, an investigation by The 'Skeeter Bites Report could find no evidence that he is.

To the contrary, there is evidence that strongly points to Foley having an erotic attraction exclusively to adolescent teenagers -- suggesting a pedophile, not homosexual, orientation.

Contrary to a widely-held belief of a direct correlation between the two, homosexuality and pedophilia are two completely different sexual orientations.

If Foley Really Is Gay, Why No Adult Male Partners?

At a news conference early Tuesday evening in West Palm Beach, Florida, Foley's attorney, David Roth, told reporters that his client "now acknowledges that he is gay" -- and that he was molested between the ages 13 and 15 by a clergyman.

Roth reiterated his forceful denial on Monday that Foley had ever had "inappropriate contact of a physical or sexual nature" with minors. "Mark Foley has never, ever had inappropriate sexual contact with a minor in his life," Roth said. "He is absolutely, positively not a pedophile."

Yet in the mushrooming scandal over Foley's sexually explicit Internet messages with teenaged boys, no one has yet come forward with any evidence that the 52-year-old Foley has ever been in a relationship with an adult male partner or had sexual liaisons with adult men.

The operative word here is "adult."

Adult men who are gay are attracted to and have relationships only with other adult men. If you're a man and you're sexually attracted to other men, you're gay. If you're a man and you're sexually attracted to both men and women, you're bisexual (as, for the record, this blogger is).

But if you're a man and you're sexually attracted to adolescents -- or worse, pre-pubescent children -- regardless of whether they're boys or girls,then you're neither gay nor bisexual. You're a pedophile.

Only pedophiles are sexually attracted to kids. If Foley really is gay, then he should have a history of having had liaisons -- or a long-term relationship -- with other adult gay or bisexual men. No evidence of such a history with Foley has been found so far.

To the contrary, the evidence that has been uncovered -- and continues to pile up -- strongly indicates that Foley has an erotic attraction exclusively to adolescents, even if he never acted on it.

The fact that the adolescents Foley is attracted to appear to all be boys is irrelevant; the bottom line is that he's apparently not attracted to adult men.

To date, not a single one of the sexually suggestive e-mails and instant messages issued by Foley that have been discovered so far have been addressed to adult males. All of the recipients appear to have been adolescent boys.

A Columnist's "Outing" of Foley Backfires

Is it any wonder, then that Foley would react so angrily to a 2003 column published in an Miami alternative weekly newspaper that "outed" him as gay? If Foley had an adult male companion or had had a history of relationships with other adult gay men -- he is, after all, single -- he probably would have "come out" on his own or, at the very least, confirmed the columnist's expose.

In May of that year, Bob Norman, a columnist for the weekly New Times,wrote a column in which he claimed that Foley, a six-term moderate Republican, was gay. According to Norman, "It was already common knowledge among political and media types" in South Florida.

Foley had built a record in the House as a strong supporter of gay civil rights, breaking from his fellow Republicans by being a co-sponsor of a bill that would ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the gay weekly The Washington Blade. He infuriated GOP conservatives by twice voting against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage -- although he did vote in favor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Norman said that, given Foley's record in the House, he ran his column in the hope that making what he thought was Foley's gay sexual orientation public "would do some good."

Norman's column was immediately posted on at least 20 Web sites, including that of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, of which New Times is a member. It was then picked up by dozens of gay newspapers across the country, including The Blade, The Weekly News of Miami and the national gay newsmagazine The Advocate. It also received a mention in Hotline, a popular inside-the-beltway political gossip magazine.

But instead of "coming out," as Norman had hoped, Foley took the unusual step of calling a news conference to denounce Norman's column and other "rumors" about his sexuality as "revolting and unforgivable." Yet he repeatedly refused to answer reporters' questions to either confirm or deny that he was gay. "My sex life has nothing to do with my duties as a lawmaker," he said angrily.

At the time of the Norman column, Foley was running for the 2004 Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Bob Graham, a Democrat. After the New Times column ran, Foley withdrew from the race, citing a need to care for his ailing father (The seat was eventually won by Republican Mel Martinez).

Foley May Have Feared Exposure of His X-Rated E-Mails As Early As '03

As it turned out, Foley may have had another reason to be angry at Norman: He may have been terrified that someone would find out that he had been sending sexually explicit e-mails and Internet instant messages -- not to other adult gay or bisexual men, but to adolescents.

He had a reason to be terrified: After all, Foley was the chairman of the House Committee on Missing and Exploited Children. Just last year, the House passed legislation he wrote that would subject child sex offenders to stringent monitoring requirements and to tough penalties for failing to comply with registration requirements. "We track library books better than we do sexual predators," Foley said at the time.

He also sponsored a bill that enabled youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to have access to FBI fingerprint background checks of prospective adult employees to help protect children from pedophile predators.

Foley knew that if anyone discovered that he was sending sexually explicit online messages to teenaged Capitol Hill page boys, he would be branded a predatory pedophile himself -- not to mention the ultimate hypocrite.

As it turned out, someone did discover his online peccadilloes -- and the result is the most devastating political hurricane to hit Washington since Watergate -- and it's far from over.

An All-Out Conservative Revolt Against GOP Leadership

GOP leaders are taking a bitter beating from their most loyal constituents: conservatives. In a scathing editorial published Tuesday, The Washington Times, one of the most reliably conservative voices in the nation's capital, called for Hastert to "resign his speakership at once" for not doing enough to investigate questions about Foley's E-mails.

"Either he [Hastert] was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations, or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away," The Times editorial thundered.

The newspaper called on Republicans to replace Hastert as speaker with Representative Henry Hyde (R-Illinois), chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Hyde, who's retiring at the end of the year, "would preside over the remaining three months of the 109th Congress in a manner best suited for a full and exhaustive investigation until a new speaker for the 110th Congress is elected in January."

Hastert promptly rejected The Times editorial, with a spokesman saying that the speaker will stay on. "The speaker has and will lead the Republican conference to another majority in the 110th Congress," said Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean.

Tony Perkins, president of the hard-right Family Research Council, told The Washington Post that, "there's a real chance" that the Foley sex scandal could cost the GOP their majorities in both the House and the Senate. "I think the next 48 hours are critical in how this is handled," he said, adding that "when a party holds itself out as the guardian of [family] values, this [the scandal] is not helpful."

Joe Gaylord, the chief adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R- Georgia), warned that the fallout from the Foley scandal -- coming on the heels of new controversies over President Bush's handling of the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq -- may all but guarantee the Democrats taking back control of the House in the November 7 elections.

"The part that causes the greatest fallout is the obvious kind of pall that an incident like this would put on our hardest-core voters, who are evangelical Christians," Gaylord told The Post. "The thing I have said almost since this cycle began is the real worry you have is that [Republicans] just won't turn out. This is one more nail in that coffin."

# # #

Volume I, Number 46
Copyright 2006, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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Monday, October 02, 2006

It's 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' For Republicans as Two Bombshells Explode at Once

Five Weeks Before Election Day, a New Book Exposes a 'Bunker Mentality' at the White House Over the Iraq War; Congressional Republicans Scramble to Recover From a Lurid Sex Scandal Involving One of Their Own

By Skeeter Sanders

With five weeks to go before the November 7 midterm elections, Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington have been hit by a one-two punch of explosive bad news that may prove to be the political equivalent of getting slashed to death by Freddie Kruger in "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

In less than a week, two political bombs exploded at the White House and on Capitol Hill -- the former dropped by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the latter self-detonated by a Republican member of Congress.

Both explosions have left the Grand Old Party reeling at a time when it was already facing an increasingly uphill struggle to keep control of Congress. Put together, they could prove to be, for Republicans, the dreaded "October Surprise" that results in Bush becoming a "lame duck" president two years early.

By Sunday, both the White House and Capitol Hill were in full damage-control mode.

President Bush declared that he has "full confidence ' in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, despite accusations made in a new book by veteran Washington Post reporter and editor Bob Woodward that he botched the Iraq war and that there had been at least two major efforts by top Bush aides to replace him.

And Rumsfeld himself said that he would not resign, telling reporters en route to Nicaragua for a meeting of Latin American defense ministers that he was not surprised by the reports of a "palace revolt" to have him fired.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans were scrambling to recover from an increasingly lurid sex scandal involving one of their own. The FBI announced Sunday that it will examine sexually explicit e-mail and instant-message exchanges by former Representative Mark Foley (R-Florida) with several teenaged boys to determine if the messages violated federal law.

Foley, a six-term moderate Republican, abruptly resigned from Congress on Friday after ABC News revealed he sent sexually suggestive e-mails to a former congressional page and instant messages to other present and former high school-aged pages.

The FBI opened its probe at the written request of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The White House and congressional Democrats also called Sunday for a criminal probe.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett called the allegations against Foley shocking, but said President Bush hadn't learned of Foley's inappropriate e-mails to a 16-year-old boy and instant messages to other boys before the news broke last week.

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) called the Foley case "repugnant, but equally as bad is the possibility that Republican leaders in the House of Representatives knew there was a problem and ignored it to preserve a congressional seat this election year." Reid said the case should be handled outside Congress.

* * *

Woodward Book Lays Bare a President Determined to Have It His Way, No Matter Who Gets Hurt

George W. Bush staked his presidency on winning the "war on terror" that began so shockingly on September 11, 2001. But after five years, the 43rd president of the United States has conducted this war in a manner that is an absolute disgrace to the honor of this country.

It has resulted in a wholesale government rape of the Constitution it is bound by its oath of office to uphold, endangering the liberties of Americans.

It has resulted in a massive betrayal of almost everything that the founders of this country -- and generations of Americans since -- stand for.

It has resulted in the world that for more than a century looked up to the United States as a beacon of human dignity and freedom now viewing this country as a superpower run amok, hell-bent on having its way, all the time, no matter who gets hurt.

It has resulted in the most egregious misuse of this nation's military resources -- both human and mechanical -- since the Vietnam War.

But worst of all, this president is too ideologically bullheaded to admit to any of this. On the contrary, he and his administration have had the audacity to attack anyone and everyone who dares to call his policies into question as "unpatriotic" at best and as "aiding and abetting the enemy" at worst, in an all-out effort to bully his critics into silence.

And nowhere is this more evident than the Bush administration's pursuit of the war in Iraq.

Yours Truly and a host of other bloggers -- as well as a growing number of politicians of both major parties -- have been arguing this for months. But now, a new book reveals that Bush's rigidity on Iraq is far harder than previously thought.

In State of Denial, which will hit the bookstores today (Monday), Woodward writes that the White House ignored a dire warning issued three years ago from senior advisers on Iraq -- and even from Paul Bremer, the former head of the American transitional authority there -- that as many as 40,000 additional American troops would be needed to quell the post-Saddam Hussein insurgency.

Woodward also writes that former White House chief of staff Andrew Card tried -- and failed -- on two occasions to persuade Bush to fire Rumsfeld. Even First Lady Laura Bush wanted Rumsfeld out, to no avail.

The book comes out just a week after a U.S. intelligence report was leaked to the media that concluded the war in Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists.

Bush Refused to Acknowledge Iraq Insurgency Until It Became Too Obvious to Ignore

Woodward says that the president's senior advisers often clashed heatedly with each other over Iraq, at one point describing Rumsfeld as being so hostile toward then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that Bush felt compelled to order his defense chief to return Rice's telephone calls.

Yet in spite of their bickering, the Bush advisers were unwilling to take seriously warnings by American military commanders on the ground in Iraq that the security situation there following the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein was deteriorating.

As late as November 2003, according to the book, Bush himself refused to acknowledge the insurgency until television images of the worsening violence made it too obvious for him to ignore. Woodward quotes Bush, presiding over a cabinet meeting, as having said, "I don't want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don't think we are there yet."

A "Palace Revolt" Against Rumsfeld Fails

According to Woodward, Card first tried to get Rumsfeld fired shortly after Bush was re-elected in 2004, arguing that the president need a "fresh start" with a new cabinet. Card recommended to Bush that Rumsfeld be replaced by former Secretary of State James Baker, who led the legal team that won the former Texas governor's post-election court battle against former Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

But Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush's chief political adviser Karl Rove balked, warning the president that firing Rumsfeld would be seen as an expression of doubt about the course of the war and would leave Bush vulnerable to criticism by his conservative base, the book says.

Card tried again to get Rumsfeld dismissed a year later -- this time with the support of First Lady Laura Bush, who, according to Woodward, was becoming concerned that Rumsfeld's "overbearing" style in running the Pentagon was undermining the authority of her husband as commander-in-chief. But once again, the president said no and Card subsequently resigned out of frustration.

For Woodward, a Dramatic Turnaround From His Previous Laudatory Books on Bush

Published by Simon and Schuster, the title of Woodward's newest book is apt. State of Denial is a scathing indictment of the Bush administration, one that paints a picture of senior administration officials -- from the president on down -- as either unable or unwilling to face the consequences of their Iraq policies.

Indeed, the 537-page book is the most damning confirmation yet of what this blogger wrote in this space a month ago: that the White House "is hopelessly out of touch with reality in the war in Iraq."

And I don't use the word "damning" lightly, for this is Woodward's third book on the Bush White House since the "war on terror" began following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But whereas Bush at War and Plan of Attack were quite laudatory toward the president, State of Denial all but calls Bush a liar -- and makes quite a few other startling revelations.

In an interview broadcast Sunday night on the CBS News program "60 Minutes," Woodward -- forever known as one-half of the Washington Post investigative reporting team (with Carl Bernstein) that in 1972 exposed the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon's presidency -- declared flatly that the Bush administration "has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq."

Woodward also revealed key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year, noting that insurgent attacks against coalition troops are occurring, on average, every 15 minutes -- "a shocking fact the administration has kept secret," he told CBS newsman Mike Wallace.

"The situation [in Iraq] is getting much worse, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public," Woodward said. "The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better'."

A Nixon-like "Bunker Mentality" Sets In at the White House

In the most shocking of his revelations, Woodward told Wallace that Bush is being closely advised by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, telling him there is no exit strategy other than victory.

"This is so fascinating," Woodward says. "Kissinger's fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will" and that Kissinger, who served as secretary of state under Nixon, is determined to exorcise that ghost.

Even without Kissinger, the Bush White House has sunk into a "bunker mentality" reminiscent of Nixon's final days in office in August 1974 as he and his administration was consumed by the Watergate scandal.

Just as Nixon stubbornly refused to acknowledge that his cover-up of Watergate was wrong, Bush is likewise stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that his Iraq policy is wrong -- and is lashing out at his critics in increasingly intemperate language.

"President Bush is absolutely certain that he has the U.S. and Iraq on the right course," said Woodward. "So certain is the president on this matter that when Mr. Bush had key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, he told them, 'I will not withdraw, even if [his wife] Laura and [his dog] Barney are the only ones supporting me.'"

Already, the administration blasted back at Woodward's book. In acidly sarcastic terms on Friday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has this to say about the book: "There's a whole lot of stuff here. You know, in a lot of ways, the book's certainly cotton candy. It, kind of, melts on contact. We've read this book before."

Bush Rips Democrats -- But Democrats Rip Right Back

Bush himself denounced critics of his Iraq policy, accusing Democrats Friday of being "the party of cut and run" and adamantly insisted that the country is safer since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq -- despite findings in a recently declassified intelligence report that the war in Iraq has become "a cause celebre" that is inspiring "a new generation of jihadists" and worsening the threat of new terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

In his weekly radio address on Saturday, the president argued that critics are wrongheaded to argue for a different policy in Iraq. "Some in Washington have selectively quoted from this document to make the case that by fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are making our people less secure here at home," Bush said.

"Five years after the 9/11 attacks, some people in Washington still do not understand the nature of the enemy," the president continued. "The only way to protect our citizens at home is to go on the offense against the enemy across the world."

For their part, the Democrats weren't about to let Bush's rhetoric go unanswered. They took dead aim at the president's "cut and run" remark by showcasing in their weekly radio response Tammy Duckworth, an Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in Iraq and now is running for Congress in Illinois.

Duckworth wasted no time in tearing into the president's rhetoric.

"Anyone who challenges our failed policies, or suggests the need for a new strategy, is accused of 'cutting and running,'" Duckworth said. "Well, I didn't cut and run, Mr. President. Like so many others, I proudly fought and sacrificed. ... And I believe the brave men and women who are serving in Iraq today, their families and the American people deserve more than the same empty slogans and political name-calling!"

If the Democrats take back control of Congress on November 7 -- they're firmly on course to take over the House and have pulled even in the battle for control of the Senate, according to the latest pre-election polls -- the president might have no choice but to change course; if he doesn't, the Democratic-controlled Congress certainly will.

* * *

Republicans in Serious Political Danger In Wake of Increasingly Lurid Foley Sex Scandal

As if the Republicans didn't have enough to worry about in their increasingly difficult battle to keep control of Congress in next month's election, they're now in a virtual panic after a lurid sex scandal involving Foley exploded on Friday.

The 52-year-old Foley, who is single, apologized Friday for letting down his family and constituents. Once his resignation letter was read to the House late Friday afternoon, Republicans spent the night scrambling to come up with an explanation of how this could have happened on their watch.

Foley, a moderate Republican who until the scandal broke was considered a shoo-in for re-election to a seventh term, repeatedly e-mailed a 16-year-old youth in August 2005, asking for his picture, asking what he wanted for his birthday and making chatty comments about school and about another page who he said was "in really great shape."

The page -- whose identity was withheld to protect his privacy -- told a colleague the e-mails "freaked me out" and were "sick," according to transcripts posted online by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

ABC News reported Friday that Foley also engaged in a series of sexually explicit instant messages with current and former pages -- all of them male. In one message, ABC said, Foley wrote to one page, "Do I make you a little horny?" In another message, Foley wrote, "You in your boxers, too? ... Well, strip down and get relaxed."

GOP Leaders Knew About Foley's Indiscretions for Months -- And Didn't Discipline Him

Foley was the principal author of a law aimed at shielding children against sexual predators on the Internet -- a fact that already has raised accusations of hypocrisy against Republicans, who have spent much political capital over the past 20 years by casting themselves as the party of "family values."

House GOP leaders were forced to admit over the weekend that their offices had known for months that Foley was sending the inappropriate e-mails to the youth -- and took no disciplinary action against him.

The office of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), who earlier said he'd learned about the e-mails only last week, acknowledged Saturday that aides referred the matter to the authorities last fall. They said they were only told the messages were "over-friendly."

Representative Thomas Reynolds (R-New York), who heads the House Republican election effort, said Saturday he told Hastert months ago about concerns Foley's e-mail correspondence with the page. Reynolds has come under fire from from Democrats who say he did too little to protect the youth.

The congressional sponsor of the 16-year-old who received Foley's 2005 e-mails, Representative Rodney Alexander (R-Louisiana), said he was asked by the youth's parents not to pursue the matter, so he dropped it. Alexander said that before deciding to end his involvement, he passed on what he knew to Reynolds.

Reynolds' spokesman, Carl Forti, declined to comment, saying only that, "We are not characterizing conversations that Congressman Reynolds may have had or may not have had with other members of Congress on that subject."

Representative John Shimkus (R-Illinois), chairman of the Page Board that oversees the congressional work-study program for high schoolers, issued a statement Saturday, saying he did investigate, but Foley "falsely assured him he was only mentoring the boy."

Pages are high school students who attend classes under congressional supervision and work as messengers. Hastert said Friday he had asked Shimkus to investigate the page system. "We want to make sure that all our pages are safe and the page system is safe," Hastert said.

Foley Affair Recalls 1983 Sex Scandal Involving Pages

The Foley affair is by no means the first scandal involving the Capitol Hill pages. In 1983, the House, then controlled by the Democrats, censured then-Representatives Gerry Studds (D-Massachusetts) and Daniel Crane (R-Illinois) for having sexual relations with pages.

Studds acknowledged having sex with a 17-year-old male page in 1973 and making sexual advances to two others. In an emotional speech on the House floor, Studds admitted an error in judgment but did not apologize. Instead, he came out of the closet, becoming the first openly gay member of Congress. Studds went on to win re-election five times until he retired in 1995.

In sharp contrast to Studds, Crane's admission that he had sex several times with a 17-year-old female page in 1980 cost him his 1984 bid for re-election -- despite his own tearful apology to his House colleagues "for the shame I have brought down on this institution."

The difference? Studds was a lifelong bachelor and childless, while Crane was married and the father of six. Moreover, Crane had first won election in 1978 with the strong backing of the then-nascent Religious Right, running on a staunchly moralistic platform of "protecting family values."

Studds represented a very liberal Massachusetts district that includes Provincetown, a popular summertime vacation destination for gays. Crane represented a deeply conservative district in southern Illinois -- that, ironically, is now represented by Shimkus.

Foley shares something in common with both Studds and Crane.

Like Studds, Foley is single and has been dogged for several years by questions about his sexual orientation -- including being "outed" as gay in 2003 by a Miami alternative newspaper. He has long refused to answer questions about his sexuality, saying that "it has nothing to do with my duties as a lawmaker." Yet Foley angered his fellow Republicans by twice voting against proposed constitutional amendments to outlaw same-sex marriage.

But like Crane, Foley is a hypocrite for pushing through legislation protecting children from Internet predators on the one hand and being an alleged Internet predator himself on the other. Given society's anxiety over pedophiles and other sexual predators, what was Foley thinking?

Nobody likes a hypocrite who says one thing and does the exact opposite.

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Volume I, Number 45
Copyright 2006, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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