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September 30, 2006

Comments

Inasmuch as the Republican party claims to be the party of values, I think we should take them at their word.

It's just that we ought to remember that those values may be of a sort that any decent person would find repugnant.

I got the impression from that Hastert release that there's a colorable argument that his office was a bit dumb, not wildly irresponsible as I first supposed - that the page's parents didn't want the email disseminated seems like an acceptable reason not to do so, and the IMs make the situation much worse.

"And, as Josh Marshall asks, why on earth was the NRCC notified? That seems completely bizarre."

Think I saw this explained as simply Foley's former chief of staff then working for the NRCC guy and the discussion going through him, or something along those lines.

"Think I saw this explained as simply Foley's former chief of staff then working for the NRCC guy and the discussion going through him, or something along those lines."

That might have made sense, if they hadn't also made a point of not informing the Conduct Board - or, rather, only mentioning it subrosa to the Republican member thereof.

They wanted to "keep it in la famiglia."

While not following up at all on whether Foley was still harassing pages, or protecting the pages in any way.

Not much of a defense.

rilkefan: I'm not sure I see any explanation for someone knowing about this and failing to investigate and take action that isn't wildly irresponsible. Even if they were dumb. I think that when it comes to kids and sexual harassment, you make sure. (And yes, I think that for these purposes -- where that means not just sexual stuff, but figuring out what to do when a vastly more powerful older man is sexually harassing you, sixteen year olds are kids.)

On the one hand, there is presumably much about this we don't know and I don't want to jump to any conclusions. But I cannot imagine any defense for this. At a minimum, the Republicans who knew about this ought to be gone.

Hilzoy, I agree with you. What the parents thought, or desired, is somewhat irrelevant in terms of dealing with Foley. Like you say, there were a couple ways they could have dealt with this without even making public the actual reasons for Foley's resignation.

What I think is really key, and why they didn't do anything, even though the evidence suggests far more than one or two pages being involved, is that they really wanted to avoid the slightest sniff of sexual (specially pedeophilial sexuality) impropriety.

Remember that DeLay was having his problems, and questions were already surfacing about Abramoff. This would have been seen as the nail in the coffin. And perhaps they did talk to Foley and he said he wouldn't do it any more.

Unfortunately, that smacks very much of the Catholic Bishops' attitude about the abusing priests. And we know how the whole Church was condemned by many for that.

As I mentioned on another thread, I think this may be the deciding factor in the November elections, which to me is unfortunate in the sense that other issues which will have more impact in this country should be the deciding factor.

And I really think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of how many pages were impacted by Foley.

John,

I'd note that, while it would be nice to see the Democrats win on the issues, right now I'm willing to see them win, period, as long as it's nothing underhanded. And certainly this is an issue; if the Republican leadership can't even deal with a relatively simple problem (I don't think you need a PhD to figure out that an adult making sexual remarks to 16 year olds is inappropriate and should be dealt with quickly and effectively to protect the children), how on Earth can they be trusted to handle truly complex questions?

I think it is entirely in character for the elected Republicans to notify the NRCC and noone else. After all they see everything exclusively in terms of how it might affect their power. It is ALL smoke and mirrors and manipulation. As for the party of values, they have only value one thing:, power. Their ethical code can be summrized in one phrase: the ends justify the means.
No,nothing surprising about the decsion to inform the NNRCC and no one else. After all, since winning is the only thing thhat matters, whhy bother informinng anyone else?

Does anyone know if Foley will face any criminal charges?

Wasn't Foley instrumental in passing a law making precisely this kind of conduct illegal?

Human psychology is very, very wierd.

John,
following up on what Andrew said, sort of, when you say

I think this may be the deciding factor in the November elections, which to me is unfortunate in the sense that other issues which will have more impact in this country should be the deciding factor

I agree that it's true that whether one congressman is a chickenhawk or child molester is not important as a factor as to which party should be in power, but how the party leadership handled it is important. Those of us who want to see a change of leadership in Congress this fall generally agree, I will hazard, that one of the biggest reasons is the Republicans' gross irresponsibility. That the Foley affair is a sort of watermark example makes it an appropriate nail, if your assessment of the results turns out to be right.

Why doesn't someone get a comment from John Walsh, Adam Walsh's father? Interestingly, the wikipedia page notes

The bill institutes a national database of convicted child molesters, increases penalties for sexual and violent offenses against children, and creates a RICO cause of action for child predators and those who conspire with them.

Perhaps there's a colorable argument that one could apply RICO to the Republican leadership.

"All they had to do was: first, investigate further, and find the rest of the emails; and then go to Rep. Fole, inform him of that fact, and suggest that he confess that he had a problem, resign, and seek treatment. Jeb Bush could have named a Republican replacement, who would now probably be en route to retaining Foley's seat."

No, he's a representative (Foley, not Fole) and has to be replaced by a special election.

Yes, Andrew, it would be nice if the Dems would win on the issues. But I'm so desperate, I'll take a win on yuck.

When my kids were in elementary school, we had a principal who was terrible. Not just bad, but the kind of guy who would go to a teacher and tell him, "Parent A is out to get you fired, but if you stick with me I'll make sure you keep your job." That is just one of a myriad of things this guy did back in the early 90's. The atmosphere between the parents and the teachers was so poisoned that it was a wonder that this formerly top notch public school was turning out kids ready for middle school.

We formed a parents group, wrote a detailed 20 page letter listing the numerous problems and over 180 parents signed it. At the meeting with the school district representative we were told, "yes we know this has been going on for 6 or 7 years, so we'll put him on double super secret probation." I was so frustrated, I raised my hand and asked, just what it would take to get him removed. right. now. I was told that only a problem of a sexual nature would be considered that serious.

Well, there had been rumors for years that he and the school secretary had been involved in something that ended up on a police blotter. We had earlier searched the city police records and came up with zip. This was a challenge that could not be ignored. I went back and broadened the search to the county and voila! He and she had pleaded no contest to public indecency charges. They had been caught in one of his Corvettes (He had 7) next to a public golf course where she was giving him a blow job. A neighbor had seen them in action and called the cops. They were, at the time, married to other people and parents of children.

It took less than a week. The school district attempted to cordon off the police records detailing the plea, but the principal's ex-wife had obligingly put them into some of their divorce papers, so I found them through another route.

Looking back, I am still glad that we got rid of him. The school has blossomed academically and there are strong arts and music programs in place funded by happy parents.

So, yes I would take the Rs going down for sex. Gladly.

To Andrew and JakeB, I probably did not make myself clear enough. I agree that anything that is likely to bring down the Republican conbtrol of Congress is worthwhile. And this issue is important.

I don't want to minimize Foley's transgressions or the leadership's handling of the problem.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that the Republicans, if they lose, can point to this as the reason instead of their complicity in the dragging down of the Constitution, support of a President who believes he is God's representative on Earth, torture and the erosion of our rights as not just citizens but human beings, etc.

Of course, it is always possible that if those were the issues, then they would win.

Well, let's see: Foley only wanted a blowjob. Clinton actually got one. Case closed!

Anarch, are you sure he didn't get one?

I would be very surprised if he didn't.

for those who care, my use of "chickenhawk" above was meant to be in the sexual sense, not the more recent military sense.

john miller--
I get you. Although at the moment I feel that the Republican party in its current incarnation is so monstrously toxic, that if they became known as the party of pedophiles and lost every election for 20 years, disintegrating into libertarian, conservative, neoconservative, and Christofascist pieces, the world would probably be a better place.

JakeB, Amen.

Jay S: thanks; I've corrected both the typo and the more serious misstatement of fact.

Thank you,
Although I would have thought the US Constitution might be the definitive cite:
"When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies."

Republican Leadership could have outed this guy a year ago,run a simple special election per Florida law and held onto the seat.

Sure, they would have had to take a few lumps from nasty headlines, but in an off-election year who cares? And the seat would not have been in jeopardy, as it is now.

Seems irrational, from the standpoint of a Hastert or a Boehner.

Until you remember Foley's extensive role in stealing the 2000 election in Florida. My guess is that when they tried to push him out, he pushed back with threats, probably directly to the Bush people.

Then Bush's people told the House to back off, and he stayed. It was a gamble; it almost worked.

CaseyL: "That might have made sense, if they hadn't also made a point of not informing the Conduct Board - or, rather, only mentioning it subrosa to the Republican member thereof."

Dunno - seems like two separate actions to me, and one has a possibly reasonable explanation and the other is just partisanship of the worst sort. The conjunction might lead one to reject even entirely plausible explanations, but that's a risky way to operate.


hilzoy: "I'm not sure I see any explanation for someone knowing about this and failing to investigate and take action that isn't wildly irresponsible. Even if they were dumb. I think that when it comes to kids and sexual harassment, you make sure."

Dunno - if the parents say it's ok and please don't pursue the matter, and if one has no other reason to distrust the guy (who had a sterling reputation I suppose), does one say "Give us all your emails to anyone"? From his home account too? And his hard drive?

I ask because I haven't seen the first email and because, well, I knew someone who as a teaching assistant was accused of sexual harrassment by a student who might have been under-age, but the TA had a sterling reputation and was being accussed by someone who apparently had a history of makkng such charges frivolously, and the matter was dropped. The "you make sure" doctrine, understood maximally, might have led to a lot of entirely unnecessary unpleasantness and hurt feelings.

In any case, I suspect that it will turn out that there were multiple warning signs ignored by the House leadership, which will make my caution irrelevant.

rilkefan: "if one has no other reason to distrust the guy (who had a sterling reputation I suppose)"

From Hilzoy's post:
'Note this as well: "One former page tells ABC News that his class was warned about Foley by people involved in the program."'

There's some evidence he had a less than sterling reputation.

Anarch, are you sure he didn't get one?

There are known unknowns and unknown knowns and unknown unknowns, plus Clinton did it first.

The description Hastert gave called into question. Call me Jane Bennett.

Anarch, that makes the people in the program sound irresponsible, dunno if that gets Hastert et al.

rilkefan: there are now several pages who have come forward. The program knew enough to be warning people. I would think that asking around a little -- which would just be common sense -- would have brought it to light. (It certainly didn't take ABC long to get multiple confirmations.) I don't mean mounting a full-bore investigation, but, for instance, having someone talk to present and former pages informally and privately. (This would not in any way have to involve saying to the pages why one was asking what they thought of Rep. Foley, or whatever.)

I really don't see why that isn't the least one could do. And given the amount of time it took ABC, I'd say this would probably have uncovered the problem in detail.

(I mean: if a Congressman was detailed to ask, he'd have a lot of advantages over a reporter. Authority, for one thing. The ability to respect the wishes of the kids about whether it got publicized, or just dealt with by persuading Foley to resign, for another. Nonetheless, reporters did just fine.)

Is it clear from the chronology that Foley had a bad rep with the page program people at the time this came up? (If so, then add their names to the tumbrel list.) What's now known isn't necessarily relevant.

Hilzoy, the exchange you linked to in the first paragraph of the post is misleading; the link goes to the IM exchange, not the email exchange. This matters because of what Hastert's office et al were told-- as far as I can tell, they knew about the emails, which were nowhere near as explicit, but not the IMs.

Sorry if this has been corrected upthread; I'm skimming.

FL: thanks. It has been corrected now.

Ah. See my 2nd comment above.

Rilkefan, I think you were addressing me,not Anarch above.
To address your remarks to Hilzoy, reading carefully you see that the statement is attributed to a former page and statements to his or her class. That implies at least a year before this one, the page program suspected something. Hastert's office at best delegated the investigation to individuals who seemed to be hopelessly out of touch with the page program. The head of the page program committee ought to resign at a minimum. If Hastert can't do that, then he needs to go.

Captain Ed calls for the resignation of Hastert and Boehner from their respective leadership positions.

JayS, yes, yeah, and I'm coming to agree.

"Hastert's office at best delegated the investigation to individuals who seemed to be hopelessly out of touch with the page program."

That's insane. You have a possible sexual predator situation involving Congressional pages and the individuals you delegate the investigation to are out of touch with the page program?

What the hell kind of investigation did they conduct? Who did they talk to?

 
Why shouldn't Republicans cover up for Foley?
 
They covered up for so many more prominent party members!
 
Ronald Reagan committing adultery. ("...the 57-year-old Reagan's creaky coupling with an 18-year-old campaign worker [and] ... how Reagan blithely bounced the bedsprings with lover Christine Larson while wife Nancy struggled to give birth to daughter Patti.") (And more.)
 
Ronald Reagan committing rape.
 
George HW Bush committing adultery.
 
Bob Dole's adultery hidden by newsmen. (last item)
 
George W Bush impregnating a 15-year-old girl.
 
George W Bush trying to get a 14-year-old girl drunk.
 
Has all that just gone down the Memory Hole to oblivion?
 
Why expect Mark Foley to stay away from the party?
 

Rilkefan: well, I knew someone who as a teaching assistant was accused of sexual harrassment by a student who might have been under-age, but the TA had a sterling reputation and was being accussed by someone who apparently had a history of makkng such charges frivolously, and the matter was dropped.

As frequently happens. That's how people get away with sexual harassment sometimes for decades: the person who makes the accusation has a bad character, the person who is accused has a good character, and the matter is dropped.

Florida: Until you remember Foley's extensive role in stealing the 2000 election in Florida. My guess is that when they tried to push him out, he pushed back with threats, probably directly to the Bush people.

My guess is, it's as simple as: They figured they could get away with it. In six years they've got away with so much criminal behavior, that one guy with a habit of making sexual approaches to teenagers probably didn't seem like a big deal: as Rilkefan has demonstrated, teenagers are frequently disbelieved when they complain of sexual harassment. They usually don't have the "sterling character" that the person they are accusing does.

 
Other Republican sex offenders.
 

The thing I hate about that kind of list coming from someone putatively on my side, Raven, is that looking down it I can see (just offhand, without doing any clicking or googling) it includes multiple instances of behavior that could certainly be described as tawdry or icky, but doesn't make the person who did it a "sexual offender" - and at least one instance of an offence committed in 1924. In short, it's a smear campaign.

And I can see a bunch of allegations being presented as fact. It's not that I think one can't present them at all, or anything; just that they should be presented as what they are: allegations.

You have to love this:

"Last night, Hastert, Boehner and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in a statement that Foley's communications with former pages are "unacceptable and abhorrent," and that his resignation "must now be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system." The statement did not suggest how that might happen, but added that the three have "asked for the creation of a toll-free telephone number for House pages, parents, grandparents and staff to confidentially report incidents of concern.""

And, of course, if you report an "incident of concern" on their nifty new hotline, nothing will happen until the press gets hold of the information.

It's not as though the problem in this case was that no one told the leadership.

Geez, why don't they set up a webform? It would be a pity to have all that PHP expertise at these Republican group blogs go to waste...

I don't think I understand why, if the Republicans were to lose control of the House because of this issue (a straw and a camel's back kind of issue, don't you think?), how that would not be losing on the issues? The major issue of the day, according to the Republicans, is "Who can best keep you safe?" Clearly, you can't trust them to keep your children safe, not if their pages. How does that NOT relate to keeping all of us safe? How does it not relate to making political decisions when ethical decisions are called for? Because I think that's exactly what they've done - played at politics and trashed their principles. This is just another one, another example of how little they are actually concerned for anyones safety but their own.

They send other people's children to war, and they send other people's children to Foley. I don't see much difference. In fact, I'd prefer the Foley approach had I no other choice.

Jake

I don't think I understand why, if the Republicans were to lose control of the House because of this issue (a straw and a camel's back kind of issue, don't you think?), how that would not be losing on the issues?

Exactly right.

And Raven, the "15 year old girl" was born on June 7, 1947. (Texas birth records are on the internet.) That doesn't make her 15 years old in 1971 now does it?

Let me just compliment hilzoy on the phrase some mute inglorious Milton. Can't explain why, but I think that's great.

How to make it "winning on the issues":

They put an Arabian Horse Judge in charge of disaster management.
They put oil company lobbyists in charge of our energy policy.
They put Dubai in charge of our port security.
And they put a child predator in charge of the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children.
Who will you put in charge in November?

(not my own, it's going around. pass it on.)

re: not losing on the issues

Because, if I could be permitted to speculate on the thought processes of the die-hard supporters, it will be because the Republican leadership obviously was forced to act the way it did because the Dems are so shiftless and sleazy as to seize on one bad apple to attack the work of the Republicans, which has obviously been the work of God. Had the republican leadership had the support that the democratic leadership had back in the day (because republican leadership naturally represents the majority, otherwise, they wouldn't be the leadership), they would have quickly dealt with the issue, but given the toxic environment that now exists, their hands were tied. And for those Republican supporters who feel this is a burnt bridge too far, it will not call into question the previous burnt bridges, so Iraq or Katrina or Gitmo or the torture bill are safely excluded from consideration.

Stepping out of the mind of the imaginary Republican diehard who has not acknowledged any missteps by this admin (obviously no one here) what is disturbing to me is not that this problem doesn't deserve to be dropped on the Republicans like a ton of bricks, it is that it will create the same kind of blind spot that Watergate did for Nixon, a point I think is driven home by the fact that Woodward's newest book reveals that Kissinger has been advising Bush. If we have to go thru this whole BS suite again 40 years from now, you are going to have to deal with one really crotchety old man.

a point I think is driven home by the fact that Woodward's newest book reveals that Kissinger has been advising Bush.

I have to say, I received a certain frisson of satisfaction upon realizing that this administration weren't plagiarists after all, merely the latest iteration of the grandmaster's improvisations.

I share John Miller's desire for the Republicans to lose on the larger issues rather than through this (important though it is), but I'll take what I can get. More worrisome is that any loss might be connected to stirring up this sort of sentiment (from the trackbacks on the Captain's Quarters post):

What will not be said is that the increased acceptance of homosexuality comes at a price. It is taboo even to intimate that there is sometimes a connection between the homosexual orientation of some and the abuse of boys and young men.
Whether the teenagers involved are boys are girls should be completely irrelevant, but I fear the impact of the charges is increased by the number of people who don't agree with me about that.

KC, I don't read CQ, but WOW! That man has a blind spot through which you could drive a truck!

If acceptance of homosexuality leads to greater abuse of boys and young men, then, clearly, we need to look askance at heterosexuality as well, because, beyond a shadow of a doubt, girls and young women by the millions are preyed upon by the hetero males among us.

If you wanted to provide for the greatest good for the greatest number, then you would discourage hetero sex, not homo sex.

Logic is such a bitch.

Jake

Jake, just to be clear, Captain Ed had nothing to do with that quote. It was from a blog called "As the Top of the World Turns" and appeared in the trackbacks to the CQ post.

Out of Context: "Let me just compliment hilzoy on the phrase some mute inglorious Milton."

-- I'll pass the compliments on to Thomas Gray, from whom I stole it (Elegy written in a Country Churchyard):

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village Hampden that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood."

There's more, all of it wonderful.

KC, what do you mean when you say "larger issues"? I think you have it exactly reversed - if the Republicans, or Democrats, for that matter, informed their politics with ethics and principle, there might be little difference between the parties' "larger issues", as you and JT put it.

These "larger issues" are actually smaller issues, but, frankly, they are all that differentiate one from another of much of the political class in this (or any) country. Ethics and principles not being the long suits of much of anyone in politics.

In a very real way, the ethics and principles of our leadership do inform their politics - or at least a lack of same does the informing.

We must hold our leadership to higher standards. It is not enough to be merely human when you are among the leaders of the most powerful nation ever. Although, that being said, merely human may be a bar set too high.

Jake

Logic is such a bitch.

Don't I f***ing know it.

my prediction: the Dems will somehow manage to play these events into a net gain for Republicans.

Can we have a little exercise in how Rove would play this if the Dem's were in charge of the house and this scandal occurred?

Every single Democratic house member would be tarred with it every day from now until the election.

TPM's timeline. So the page went to the papers (well, the St. Petersburg Times) in '05 and got ignored. Pretty surprising, unless that's a hard-conservative rag.

Jes, you missed or ignored "frivolous".

florida: Republican Leadership could have outed this guy a year ago,run a simple special election per Florida law and held onto the seat. ... Seems irrational, from the standpoint of a Hastert or a Boehner.

Until you remember Foley's extensive role in stealing the 2000 election in Florida. My guess is that when they tried to push him out, he pushed back with threats, probably directly to the Bush people.

That's an angle I hadn't thought of. But my guess is that DeLay's situation played at least as big a role in the leadership coverup. He was the Speaker then, already under a cloud, with indictment looming (or just issued?).

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Jesurgislac: teenagers are frequently disbelieved when they complain of sexual harassment. They usually don't have the "sterling character" that the person they are accusing does.

Congressional pages, though, are not your run-of-the-mill teenagers. They are the children of politically influential parents, as well as being the result of a selection process that puts an emphasis on a record of approved behavior.

I'm not saying no Congressional page has ever done anything wild, but there isn't the same basis for a disinclination to believe that there might be with a random high schooler.

According to Americablog, CREW sent the emails to the FBI two months ago and they did nothing.

Also, to hear some commenters and perhaps some of the editors at redstate tell it, Foley was one of the more "moderate" GOP House members (if you can be considered moderate when you vote GOP in organizing the House these days), I wonder if DeLay & Co. were using these to keep him "in line" in voting on certain bills.

Oh, and is just so happens that a video of Mohammed Atta pops up today, hmmm....

The antigay stuff isn't limited to obscure blogs. Glenn Greenwald points out that it's on Time's blog of the year as well.

Via TPM, the South Palm Beach Post answers rilkefan's question:

"Congressional staff members who asked not to be identified said it was widely known among Hill staffers and some House leaders that Foley had been engaging in inappropriate conduct and language with young aides."

And Atrios has this from the NY Democratic Party, though there doesn't seem to be a link:

"Rep. Reynolds' NRCC received $100,000 from disgraced Rep. Foley in July, after he learned about Foley's inappropriate emails with minors

As reported yesterday, Reynolds declined to report the inappropriate emails to authorities or act on them -- now we may know why

During the same period Rep. Tom Reynolds was keeping Mark Foley's inappropriate emails with minors secret, his campaign committee coffers received a $100,000 donation from Foley, it was revealed today. Reynolds has come under fire for knowing about the inappropriate emails for many months and covering it up to protect his colleague who has since been forced to resign."

The plot thickens. Though, frankly, I think that the essential fact is that the leadership heard stuff that any decent concern for the welfare of the pages would have made them investigate, and did nothing.

I don't know how condidtions are in England but in parts of the US a witchhunt atmospherre prevails. Any accusation, no matter how unreliable the source, is considered sufficient for a fullscale investigation. The mindset is that the accuser must be believed no matter what and the accused must prove innocence. In real life in public schools the issue of the credibility of the accuser has nothing to do with the accuser's lifestyle. The issue is that the accusers are often repeaters who routinely slander any adult who pisses them off or the accuser has a motivation (spite, revenge, avoidance of discipline) for making the accusation. None of this has anything to do with the page situation, of course. I'm just standing up for school staff members who are put in the position of having to prove innocence because of the widespread myth that the accuser's claims are routinely dismissed for invalid reasons. It is entirely valid to question the crediblity of the accuser if the accuser has a motive for an accusation or a pattern of making accusations.

"And there are also some generally rational though deeply misguided defenses of Hastert being mounted elsewhere by some Bush followers."

Greenwald really does write some stupid things on occasion.

If there were just one accuser, and if there was any indication of a quid pro quo for coming forward, and if the accuser had a pattern, etc., the credibility of the accuser in this case might be an issue.

But none of that applies here. There are at least five pages, Foley already had a rep among the pages in general, and the individual whose emails from Foley have been made public was apparently told by his parents to let the matter drop.

Here's a question: there were two previous incidents of Congresspersons having sex with pages. At least, two that made headlines. Weren't any procedures put in place to deal with the matter if it happened again? If so, what were they?

"it was widely known among Hill staffers and some House leaders that Foley had been engaging in inappropriate conduct and language with young aides."

Then identify and boot some House leaders, if they're not already gone.

Some explanation: Foley preyed on ex-pages.

Dems must press ONE point: the Republicans who knew about it called the RNCC, not the cops.

I just want to hear them say that one point, over and over again,

What an odd comment at 2:07, rilkefan, unless you're being sarcastic.

You often go out of your way to give the benefit of the doubt here (as in your first comment on this thread), and that's what Greenwald is doing in the sentence you quote. Unless I'm misunderstanding you, in which case, feel free to explain what you meant.

Unless Greenwald's God, it's stupid of him to say a rational defense of an act which has just come to light is deeply misguided.

In all the furor over Foley's nasty emails, nobody is talking much about how STUPID you have to be to leave a trail of emails and instant messages like that. How in the world can somebody rise to the level of being in Congress and simultaneously be that goddam dumb?

Oy.

rilkefan, I'm still not getting your objection, but it's not something I care to spend much more time going into. I have my own name for these kinds of one-liner-followed-by-hours-of-explication blind alleys on ObWi, but thankfully, the posting rules prevent me from applying it here.

So I'll say what I take from Greenwald's statement, in the context in which it was made, and then I've said all I'm going to say on the topic.

"Rational but deeply misguided" in Greenwald-speak seems to me to mean "defensible but wrong". It's an opinion of Greenwald's, not an edict, and, though not how I would have expressed it, not a particularly stupid one.

He's using the phrase to distinguish Republican bloggers' posts rationalizing Hastert's (and Boehner's and Reynolds' and Alexander's) actions from Hindraker's twisted, homophobic rationale.

lily: It is entirely valid to question the crediblity of the accuser if the accuser has a motive for an accusation or a pattern of making accusations.

Depends on the age and background of the accuser, lily. One thing that really isn't often admitted: sexual abuse, especially within families, is far more common than sexual abuse outside families. And sometimes, the victim ends up accusing someone else because they can't bring themselves to accuse their own father, or stepfather, or uncle. That would be very wrong for an adult: I find it hard to blame a teenager still living with their abuser who does that in the hope of escaping the abuse. The person to blame for the situation then is the abuser, not the abuser's victim.

I think (as discussed on a thread ages ago) that the solution to ending child abuse would be to allow any child who wants to leave home to do so, at any time, without having to give a reason. The readiness to assume that the accuser is probably lying is part of the problem: but the main part is still that children live in the economic, social, and legal power of their parents/stepparents, and have no way of escaping that power until they turn (16, in my country: 18?). The system is based on the presumption that parents/stepparents won't abuse the enormous power they have: but, all too often, they do.

One thing that really isn't often admitted: sexual abuse, especially within families, is far more common than sexual abuse outside families.

Preview Is My Friend. What I meant, obviously, was:

Sexual abuse is far more common than anyone likes to admit: and one thing that really isn't often admitted, sexual abuse within families is far more common than sexual abuse outside families.

Ok, Nell, I think your rationale for defending Greenwald's formulation is rational but deeply misguided.

Maybe you could advance your objections to Greenwald's formulation on Greenwald's blog, rilkefan?

It seems like the rational thing to do.

There are many rational things to do, but the point of time is that not everything can happen at once. Anyway I was pretty unimpressed with his recent appearance here and don't feel interested in seeking him out.

Jes, just to try and head off an avalanche, I agree with your point, but bringing up sexual abuse in families when this situation has nothing to do with families could encourage some to engage in a parsing contest about the prevalence of sexual abuse. Fortunately, none of them are sufficiently shameless enough to try that on for size, but given the current circumstances, I would prefer for there to be a laser-like focus on this representative, what precisely he did, and what the House Leadership knew and kept quiet, quite possibly in exchange for hush money.

Rilkefan,
would you disagree with a statement such as "Volokh's consideration of the possibility that torture may be worthwhile is rational, but deeply misguided"?

Hinderaker's Insty approved musings seem to be the product of some deeper character flaws than other discussions, and certainly more problematic than your objections about rushing to judgement, which I think are rational, but given what we know about the Republican leadership, deeply misguided. If only I were John Thullen to put this in some hilarious stream of consciousness comment, but I'm not, so please don't take this as an attack on you, just a frame to understand Greenwald's point.

LJ, I think the hush money angle is a dead end. It seems to be part of the "dues" in this pay to play congress.

lj: 'would you disagree with a statement such as "Volokh's consideration of the possibility that torture may be worthwhile is rational, but deeply misguided"?'

I wouldn't argue against it, following Wittgenstein.

Would you agree with a statement such as, "rilkefan's defense of Hastert above is rational but deeply misguided"?

Greenwald spends 3 paragraphs in his 2nd update expanding on why he feels Hotair.com's defence of Hastert is misguided. You can disagree with him on that, but I certainly wouldn't employ stupid to describe his argument.

rilkefan: I don't know that I'd use "misguided" but "foolish" certainly seems apropos. Not that I think you're foolish as a person, mind, but given the context in which this arose and what we know of the people involved, your earlier defenses strike me as granting far too much goodwill to those who haven't earned it.

Perhaps granting goodwill to those who haven't earned it isn't a bad thing.

Would you agree with a statement such as, "rilkefan's defense of Hastert above is rational but deeply misguided"?

rf,
I would if I were talking about a disembodied argument by someone with whom I didn't interact with on a regular basis and thought a lot of.

Andrew,
I agree, which is why I'm defending Greenwald's formulation ;^)

Anarch, "That was a rational but foolish argument" doesn't do much for me.


Just looked at Greenwald's 2nd update, and I think he's a) assuming facts not in evidence and b) abusing the language with "deeply misguided". Nell above says it means "wrong" here. Anyone agree that's English?

I could say the sentence in question was repugnant, demagogic, deeply misguided - but I tend to think he just wrote something stupid.

"That was a rational but foolish argument" doesn't do much for me.

Really? You've never met any libertarians? (:

Doesn't deeply misguided mean that the person may believe that they are correct, but they are actually mistaken? Interestingly, the first hit for 'deeply misguided' is a press release by Harry Reid. The use of it seems to be a bit of a Democratic trope, because of the reticence to accuse their opponents of being insincere. I can check in the BNC when I get to school , but I've got a busy day, so I don't know if I will have a chance until tomorrow.

I should also add that clicking on that hotair link above shows these two updates at the bottom

Update: Wow. At the rate we’re going here, the left is going to end up being hurt more by this scandal than the right is.

Update: Maguire notes that dKos was awfully far ahead of the curve in picking this story up and says he smells a rat. Meanwhile, according to Fox, Nancy Pelosi has issued a statement calling on the GOP House leadership to answer — under oath — what they knew and when they knew it.

This doesn't have anything to do with the point rf raises, but if you want to talk about "repugnant, demagogic, deeply misguided", this seems a lot more worthy than Greenwald's point.

"Doesn't deeply misguided mean that the person may believe that they are correct, but they are actually mistaken?"

How can you say so? You are in my view mistaken on this point, and you believe you are correct, so I could reasonably say you are "deeply misguided"? Consider the example you posed earlier - someone who argues in a reality-based way for the use of torture would be called by someone who finds torture morally repugnant "deeply misguided". Someone who says "Hastert knew X but not A and B and C at time t so it is understandable that he failed to react to C at time t" may be wrong on the facts, but "deeply misguided"?

As I said, I'm a bit busy today, but I'll try to pull up some corpus examples to provide evidence that 'deeply misguided' means what I think it means and is not demogogic. However, I'm really busy today, so I hope you'll accept this as a place holder.

Update: It seems the GOP knew about Foley's "page problem" at least back in 2002, possibly as far back as 2001. It seems, also, that Shimkus and Trendahl encouraged pages to spend some private time with Foley, even after they knew about his "page problem." John Aravosis has the latest on this.

I just don't get it, though. Even granting that the GOP is a snakes' nest of hypocrisy and sexual dysfunction, what could Hastert, Shimkus and Trendahl have been thinking, encouraging contact between teenage boys and a Congressperson they knew had a thing for them?

Put this together with the still-unplumbed mystery of Gannon/Guckert's all-hours access to the White House, along with the revelations of multiple pedophiles in DHS, and it starts to look as if half of the GOP are exploitative closet cases who used their governmental jobs and authority like Platinum Membership cards at Plato's Retreat.

"You are in my view mistaken on this point, and you believe you are correct, so I could reasonably say you are 'deeply misguided'?"

Yes. Your reading seems oddly idiosyncratic.

Both "deeply" and "misguided" are matters of opinion, and while one may easily take issue with either choice, and argue the case, as well as the level of offensive connotation, they remain matters of opinion.

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds is blaming the media. No, really.

"Put this together with the still-unplumbed mystery of Gannon/Guckert's all-hours access to the White House, along with the revelations of multiple pedophiles in DHS, and it starts to look as if half of the GOP are exploitative closet cases who used their governmental jobs and authority like Platinum Membership cards at Plato's Retreat."

"half of the GOP"?

I'd hate to see this sort of pseudo-statistical analysis applied to Democrats.

One might perhaps fairly suggest that the Republicans being prone towards pandering to religious fundamentalists, and thus prone towards using anti-gay issues as wedges, that this tends to make their own gay politicians and supporters significantly more prone towards being in the closet than it does Democrats, but that doesn't exactly translate into "half of the GOP," much though I thoroughly sympathize with the desire to overlook these necessities for the next month. (And it's also not as if national Democratic politicians are all profiles in courage on gay issues, and particularly on gay marriage.)

Gary: 'Both "deeply" and "misguided" are matters of opinion, and while one may easily take issue with either choice, and argue the case, as well as the level of offensive connotation, they remain matters of opinion.'

I could reasonably call anyone a loopy poopy-head by the same argument?

I could have reasonably pointed to the various factual errors in the original post above and called it deeply misguided?

Seems humptydumptyish to me.

That's an interesting interpretation of Glenn's latest post on the subject. He specifically notes he's not as willing as Kaus to let Hastert off the hook, and he points out that this goes back to 2001. Yes, he also points to Maguire's post about the timing, but highlighting a post isn't the same as endorsing it.

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