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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Foley update - what if Foley had been a Democrat?

Gerry Studds is dead. He is the guy who did have sex with a 17-year-old male page. Mark Foley may have exchanged inappropriate chats and emails with ex-pages under the age of 21 but so far there is no proof he had sexual contact or conversations with underage persons or pages who were still in service. Which deserves the greatest condemnation? Well, the Democrats are calling for the ouster of Republican Speaker Hastert, who was informed of what was going on well after Democratic leadership. Is this hypocrisy? If you don't think so, let us see what they say about Studds now that he has passed away:


Reaction to the death of former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds


By The Associated Press

Reaction to the death of former Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass.:


"Gerry's leadership changed Massachusetts forever and we'll never forget him. His work on behalf of our fishing industry and the protection of our waters has guided the fishing industry into the future and ensured that generations to come will have the opportunity to love and learn from the sea. He was a steward of the oceans."

- U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

---

"No one fought harder for human rights, particularly in Latin America; for our environment; and for the fishermen of New England and the entire nation. He was a true pioneer."

- U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., whose wife, Lisa, once worked as an aide to Studds.

---

"Gerry often said that it was the fight for gay and lesbian equality that was the last great civil rights chapter in modern American history. He did not live to see its final sentences written, but all of us will forever be indebted to him for leading the way with compassion and wisdom. He gave people of his generation, of my generation, and of future generations the courage to be who they are."

- Dean Hara, who married Studds in 2004.

---

"Gerry was a stalwart champion of New England's fishing families as well as a committed environmentalist who worked hard to demonstrate that the cause of working people and the cause of the environment go hand in hand with the right leadership. When he retired from Congress, he did not retire from the cause, continuing to fight for the fishing industry and New England's environmental causes.

- U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

---

"I am very saddened by the death of Gerry Studds. From his days in the early 1970s as an articulate and effective opponent of the Vietnam war, through his consistent leadership on environmental issues, to his insistence that the U.S. government stop ignoring the AIDS crisis, Gerry was a forceful advocate for causes that were not always popular and that were consequently shunned by many politicians."

- U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.


Sure, I get it. Studds is a hero and Foley is a villain because Studds is a Democrat and Foley is a Republican! It all makes perfect sense...

5 comments:

Mazement said...

This is kind of a cultural thing. Here in America, it's considered bad manners to criticize people who have just died.

It's barely acceptable if the person who died was just unmitigatedly evil. But most of us aren't like that. We've got a mix of good and bad in us, and for the most part we'd hate to be remembered just for the worst thing we ever did. We try and treat our fellow Americans the same way, even if we fought bitterly with them when they were alive.

When Nixon died, for example, there wasn't a lot of talk about Watergate. People made statements about the good things that he'd done. (Opening up China, for example. Or starting the first Affirmative Action programs.) I don't think I heard a single elected Democrat condemn him. (Although there were a handful of condemnations from unelected ultra-partisan commentators. They used the "Well, *I* think he was unmitigatedly evil" loophole.)

If Speaker Hastert dies, he can expect the same treatment. He'll be eulogized for the good works that he's done, not condemned for any loathsome and cynical cover-ups he might have been involved in.

So I don't think we can claim hypocrisy here. It's just the way we do things.

Obviously different cultures have different rules. I can see how someone outside the American mainstream might believe that every funeral should have time dedicated to discussion of the deceased's character flaws. And that's a perfectly valid opinion; it's just not part of our cultural heritage.

Mark Twain, one of the most influential Americans, said said it best:

"AT THE FUNERAL:"

[...]

"Listen, with as intense an expression of attention as you can command, to the official statement of the character and history of the person in whose honor the entertainment is given; and if these statistics should seem to fail to tally with the facts, in places, do not nudge your neighbor, or press your foot upon his toes, or manifest, by any other sign, your awareness that taffy is being distributed."

(By an odd coincidence, I had to post that same quote yesterday over on joshreads.com, which is devoted to discussion of comic strips. It was in reference to snide remarks being made at a funeral by some of the characters in "Mary Worth". What are the odds?)

loboinok said...

So I don't think we can claim hypocrisy here. It's just the way we do things.

radar said...

Okay, to an extent I buy it. I will concede the funeral niceties point.

It would be great if the left would concede that Foley has done far less than Studds and that his resignation was appropriate and should be the end of the matter.

Mazement said...

Well, I'm not convinced that Foley did "far less" than Studds. There's an ongoing investigation into exactly what Foley did. (Also the law has changed over the past 20 years, and some acts that were merely unethical in Studds' day are illegal now.)

But, like you said, Foley's a private citizen now, so the topic isn't all that important.

The topic of whether there was a cover-up is still important, but it looks like that's going to get stonewalled until after the election. Anyway, it looks like the new Weldon scandal is pushing it off the front page...

radar said...

Weldon scandal? You mean the Harry Reid scandal, I presume?