The tip of the iceberg is all over the news. As the WaPo puts it:
Six-term Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned yesterday amid reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male former page.First, the Entertainment. ABC News just owns the fun creepy old man teen gay porn details part of this story. Here are some of the instant message exchanges with underage boys that sealed Republican Congressman Foley's fate. Foley goes by the screenname "Maf54":
Maf54: You in your boxers, too?But here's where this thing turns into Christmas Morning for people who yearn for a Democratic takeover of the House. It turns out the Republican leadership knew about Foley's sexual misconduct for months and allowed it to continue. It's not just that they were generally aware that Foley had a thing for underage boys. No, it's way worse than that. It looks like they were specifically told about specific instances of predatory sexual misconduct by Foley concerning underage boys working as Congressional pages. The WaPo writes:
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.
Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.
Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.
So let's be clear about this. The real scandal is not that a creepy Republican Congressman was chasing after underage boys in his care -- though hey, I'll take it. The real scandal is this: Republican Congressional leaders -- specifically Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner and Republican Speaker Denny Hastert -- appear to have aided and abetted Rep. Foley's sexual abuse of underage boys under their care. They knew it was going on, they covered up reports that it was going on, and they allowed it to continue. At a minimum, they should resign immediately.
Here are the talking points I would give to Democratic surrogates to deliver on TV and in press interviews:
1) Given what is already known, both Boehner and Hastert appear to have been complicit in Foley's abuse of underage boys under their care. They should resign immediately.
2) A police investigation (not an "inquiry" or anything like that) needs to determine whether they broke the law.
3) Even though Boehner and Hastert need to resign immediately, we still need to know: What did they know, when did they know it, and who else in the GOP did they tell about it.
And now that the GOP has disappeared Rep. Foley, here is how I'm betting they run the damage control operation:
1) Vigorously denounce Foley's misconduct. "We're just as disgusted as you are, probably more so." "How were we supposed to know this guy was a closet Democrat?" If necessary, bring Foley back from his new digs in Guantanamo Bay for a public confession, in which he completely absolves Roehmer and Hastert of any possible knowledge of what he was up to.
2) Go on the offensive.
(i) Attack the Demorats: "But the Democrats are the ones who are pushing the Homosexual Agenda!" "Barney Frank had a gay prostitution scandal and the Democrats stood behind him." "The Democrats were hearing the same rumors we were hearing."
(ii) Attack the media: "You never go after Barney Frank for being gay. You're a bunch of hypocrites." "The people would rather talk about the issues." "The Beltway media was hearing the same rumors we were hearing. Why didn't you write about it?"
(iii) Attack homosexuals. The strategic objective for the GOP here is to get the media to repeat homophobic memes in questions to Democrats, and generally to get the media to conflate the sexual exploitation of teenagers with homosexuality. For example: "But how do you respond to the charge that it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who support gay rights?"
3) Put big pressure on the media not to refer to Foley as a "Republican." After all, he's an "ex-Republican" now, right? And isn't he objectively more of a Democrat than a Republican? He was never really one of us. See number 2.
4) Boehner and Hastert would love to comment on this and show you the super secret paperwork showing all the hard work they did to shut this guy down, but it would be inappropriate for them to discuss the matter while the Ethics Committee investigates. The Chairman of the Ethics committee could even specifically request that nobody talk about the matter publicly until the Committee has a chance to fully review the evidence... in December.