Band Camp


So what’s the deal with the House leadership and this Mark Foley scandal? Majority Leader John Boehner told the Washington Post he had told Speaker Hastert about the problem. Then Hastert said he didn’t know anything about it until last Friday. Then Boehner called the Post back and said he definitely hadn’t told Hastert about it. Then he told another paper he was “99% sure” he had.

Now Hastert and some others on the right are putting out the idea this was an “October surprise” by the Democrats. I wouldn’t put it past them, but I don’t really find it credible, either. I mean, how would the Democrats even know about it? We’re talking about misbehavior by a member of the Republican caucus, which was or wasn’t reported to various Republican members of the House leadership. It seems unlikely the Republicans would inform their opposition of this kind of thing; it’s not clear they even informed each other. Besides which, ABC, who broke the story, says they got it from the former pages, themselves.

I haven’t reached any conclusions about it all at this point, other than that, however it turns out, Hastert and Boehner haven’t exactly clothed themselves in glory over it. I just thought I’d provide a place for everybody to discuss it, if they’re so inclined.


15 Responses to “Band Camp”

  1. Michael Lasley Says:

    As always in politics, I’m completely confused. As for me — if I knew a colleague was soliciting pictures from a student, that would definitely raise a red flag. So I don’t buy the whole, “oh, I thought it was an innocent request” thing.

  2. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Do you guys think they’ll do away with the “page” program? I mean, its a great opportunity and all – which is why they might want to think about doing away with it (LOTS of opportunities…)

  3. Michael Lasley Says:

    If this is an isolated incident, then I wouldn’t do away with it. Maybe just have some sort of specific guidelines for sexual harassment. If they don’t already have them. Which they probably do. But more education to everyone involved about the guidelines.

  4. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Well, but this isn’t the first time they’ve had this kind of problem involving pages.

    I believe somebody in the House has already proposed at least suspending the page program. I really don’t have any idea what the pages do — what their official duties are, that is — or how one is chosen for the program, so I don’t have an opinion about whether it should continue or not.

    I’m not sure I see the point in cancelling it, though. What good would it do?

  5. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Also, I forgot to say in my post that the statements by Hastert, Limbaugh, Gingrich, et al., that the House leadership really couldn’t do anything about this problem before now because liberals would have cried “gay-bashing” reveals how homophobic they are. And homomoronic.

    I use the term “reveals” very intentionally; those comments really were a revelation for me. I always thought most of their rhetoric on homosexuality was just red meat for the base. I didn’t think they really believed it. Wow.

  6. Al Sturgeon Says:

    The good it might do is prevent several cases of statutory rape.

    I really don’t know much about the page program either – I just understand it to be a time for teenagers to go run errands for congresspeople, and it doesn’t seem we can trust our congresspeople with teenagers. Now we can trust them with the fate of the free world though, right?

  7. juvenal_urbino Says:

    The good it might do is prevent several cases of statutory rape.

    So are we also going to take all the teenagers out of schools? Summer camps? Churches? Part-time jobs? Malls? The kind of thing Foley did happens in all those places, too. In fact, Foley did what he did not while these teenagers were in Washington, but after they’d gone home.

    If the page program were ended, do we think the teenagers who would have been pages for the summer would be “safer” doing whatever it is they’d do instead of being a page? I have my doubts. That’s why I’m not sure I see what ending the program would accomplish. OTOH, like I said, I’m not sure what having the program accomplishes, either.


    Just for the record: the Foley scandal does not involve statutory rape. So far, at least, nobody’s alleging any sex took place. According to CNN (or was it MSNBC?), Foley didn’t commit statutory rape even if he did have sex with a page; the pages are 16, which is “of age” in D.C. That’s really neither here nor there, though, since there’s been no allegation Foley had any physical contact of any kind with a page.

    I think it’s important not to let ourselves blur the facts and not only mentally convict Foley before he’s been tried, but mentally pre-convict him of crimes nobody’s even claimed he committed.

    What Foley clearly is guilty of, based on his own admissions, is abusing his position of power over these pages and their trust in him; using that power and trust to obtain their cell phone numbers, etc.; and using that information to make unwanted, inappropriate sexual advances. That’s quite bad enough.

    (I realize you might have been referring to what could have happened if this had gone on unchecked, Al. Just thought it needed to be said.)

  8. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Oh, you’re right. I was “mostly” just being facetious. The idea that we may need to scrap an old program because you can’t trust the “family-value-proclaiming” Congress with teenagers is something else…

  9. juvenal_urbino Says:


    Yet another wrinkle. What’s up with Fox News repeatedly identifying Foley as a Democrat? No wonder their viewers tend to be misinformed.

  10. Al Sturgeon Says:

    All homosexuals are Democrats. Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

  11. Sandi Says:

    I’m not sure what this means about me, but I find these sex scandals boring and distracting from the real issues. A lot of people in positions of power are in positions of power because they have a deep hunger for public recognition, fame and glory as they used to call it. I think this desire by definition means you are immature and have psychological issues. Because of this immaturity, inevitably some of these folks are also immature in other areas, such as sexual impulse control. We know this and we have known this for YEARS.

    I also think we take too much agency away from teenagers and young adults when we assume that they can’t take care of themselves and are vulnerable to the advances of adults. (And I’m not sure I see why 18 is the magic age, if it is indeed considered such). I am always told that I’m wrong about this and that I am “an exception,” but if some nasty old man had tried to hit on me when I was 16 I would have told him where to stick it, especially if it was after my summer job had ended. And probably would have reported it to boot.

    It seems to me that the reason that any teenager would be vulnerable to this kind of thing (and including online predators) is because they haven’t been instilled with a strong sense of self-confidence at home, i.e. bad parenting. Okay, let’s punish the adults who prey on kids, but let’s also work on helping our kids be strong enough and confident enough to say no.

    Personally, this was brought home to me during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. If I had been her, I might have had an affair with the President too, and I would not have been a victim in that scenario. It might have been a stupid choice I would have regretted later, but people are allowed to make stupid choices. In this age of helicopter parents, I think we are infantilizing our kids for much longer than it is warranted for their protection. Okay, end of rant.

  12. Sandi Says:

    Let me just make clear that of course I believe that what Foley did was inappropriate, and resignation was the appropriate response. However, I don’t find it particularly surprising, and I still think that we infantilize our kids too much, including by patronizing them by assuming that they are helpless and vulnerable. Some are, but not all — and certainly not the type of kids who are likely to be congressional pages.

  13. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Yes. To all of that. I’m not familiar with “helicopter parents,” but I can guess its meaning.

    We tend to hear a lot about “lost innocence” in these cases, but the only innocence really at play is the innocence parents cling to about their teenage kids, contrary to all empirical evidence. We also tend to hear a lot of outraged rhetoric about protecting “the children,” and we’ve certainly heard a ton of it in this case. That’s fine, but a 16-y.o. isn’t a child; he’s a novice adult. (Unless, that is, his development has been severely retarded by the infantilizing Sandi speaks of.) As a novice adult, he still needs some protection, but we shouldn’t think of or treat him like a child.

    (BTW, I’d apply that to crimes committed by a 16-y.o., too. Some leniency might be in order, but not much.)

  14. Sandi Says:

    I forget where I read the term first, but like the name implies it means hovering. But, I think what you said is salient too — parents have their heads in the sand and don’t have a close enough relationship with their teenagers to know what they’re doing. That’s sort of the flip side. But in both ways we infantilize our kids and then they have a hard time becoming independent. I have a brother who still lives at home (at age 27). I am convinced that he has some type of biological problem, like Asperger’s syndrome, that makes it difficult for him to function in the world. But he also hasn’t had to function because my parents allow him to have a life where he can get away with not trying. Sad, sad, sad. That’s the result of infantilizing our kids this way — they never grow up. And you know that half the serial killers you see on American Justice live with their mothers. 🙂

  15. juvenal_urbino Says:

    But, I think what you said is salient too — parents have their heads in the sand and don’t have a close enough relationship with their teenagers to know what they’re doing.

    I think it’s a cause-and-effect relationship. Parents hover because they have this unrealistic notion that their teenagers are still children (i.e., innocents), which almost no amount of empirical data can correct. It’s something parents seem to actively cling to; it’s like they don’t want to see reality.

    From what I can tell, this is a phenomenon that used to be relatively rare, but has become fiercely de rigeur over the last 20 yrs. or so. I’m not sure why. But I think it’s why we hear such loose use of the term “children” in so many news reports and policy debates.

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