Foleygate is not an ironic diversion

I have been mulling the ‘ irony’ that the Republicans may be turfed out “not because of spending recklessness, corruption, torture, big government, pork, and a hideously botched war … but because of a sex scandal which doesn’t even have (so far as we know) any actual sex. ” That’s Andrew Sullivan, approvingly retailed by Kevin Drum.

I hate to give up even one delicious irony, but this is not such. The core event in the Foley story is not his hitting on pages but the tolerant, lazy, response of the Republican leadership, and that is not an exception or a bizarre misstep or a sad personal weakness but precisely, exactly, the typical, consistent, morality and practice of the whole gang, right up to the president. I’m referring to their bottomless callous, smirking, willingness to sacrifice the weak for a selfish, petty purpose like

personal greed, including the orgy of fressing at the trough by contractors and unqualified hires in Iraq

– getting reelected with no visible point except to steal more

– showing Dad you’re not an ignorant, careless wastrel

– shameless, endless shoveling the wealth of the many to the few.

This willingness is not occasional or intermittent, it is the common guiding principle of the whole last six years.

This gang happily sacrificed hundreds of our young people and the fiscal stability of the nation for years to come to a nutty idea that war could be really cheap, and thousands of them and tens of thousands of Iraqis to delaying an awkward confrontation between a soothing bromide and facts on the ground. It threw away the miserable of New Orleans and the desperate of Darfur and the wretched in the public schools and the breathers of the air around power plants and the grunts in the desert and everyone else – everyone – it had a duty to comfort or aid. And it has nothing to do with any real principle, conservative or otherwise: not the farm bill, not the trade bill, not the invasion of Iraq nor the fecklessness in Afghanistan, not the drug bill, not the earmarks: it’s nothing but heartless abuse, in every single case, and without a hint of a suggestion of a moment of shame. These are thugs in shiny shoes who never saw a victim they wouldn’t kick or steal from, and in the end, treating the pages like a candy bowl for casual snacking by one of their own is no different from any of the rest of it.

This meltdown is not ironic, it’s just and proper and about time.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

7 thoughts on “Foleygate is not an ironic diversion”

  1. What is important about Foley's Follies is that it hits home to people who aren't 'political junkies,' or people who don't know much about the Constitution, or people who might not be as sure as we are that torture is wrong, to get what they think might be information stopping another 9/11, or who are willing to give the President the 'benefit of the doubt' on Iraq — since Saddam WAS a monster who everyone is glad to see gone.
    These people are not stupid, they just don't spend the time we do thinking about politics, law, and freedom. But this shows the Republicans to be liars and hypocrites, and thus 'scratches the teflon.' They can look again at what we have been telling them, and look again at what the Witches of Slandor have been saying. It opens their minds to realize what has been going on.
    On the other hand, there is TRUE irony in Foley's Follies. What he did was perfectly legal — though not who he did it with, the pages who were under the House's supposed protection — until a Congressman led the charge towards making internet sex with anyone under 18 illegal. That Congressman was, of course…
    Mark Foley.

  2. It's a real bitch when you end up showing not only dad but the whole world that you are in fact an ignorant, careless wastrel. The thought came to me a few weeks ago while reading Jonathan
    Alter's The Defining Moment that Alter's unstated subtext was the story of one neer-do-well momma's boy who indeed did better than well in contrast with another neer-do-well momma's boy who has f'd up everything he's ever gone near.

  3. The GOP apparently doesn't believe in the phrase, "promote the general welfare" of the United States in the preamble to the Constitution.

  4. Amen brother. This scandal IS the Republican party; if they continue in power, we can only expect more of the same. Their goal isn't good governance; it's power, and giving their base (the wealthy, not social conservatives) what they want. That's a recipe for more disasters.

  5. People need to stop using "GOP", and say Republicans instead. I'll bet 90% of people have no idea what GOP means. Just a pet peeve I have. I wish somebody would do a poll, Im sure it'd prove that Im right.
    Now back to Foley, carry on.

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