October 05, 2006
The Politics Of The October Surprise
What are the Democrats thinking? The party of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy wants to spring an election year October Surprise and they choose a sex scandal?
I think the Dems realized their strategic mistake shortly after ABC broke the Foley story. So they switched gears, aiming their criticism not at Foley's behavior but, instead, at how the House Republican leadership handled the revelations. But this new strategy -- hammering the majority party for its mishandling of a wayward officeholder -- offers no moral ground from which the Dems can score political points. Far from it.
Why? Well, Democrats for the most part think there's nothing wrong with an officeholder putting the moves on young -- and even underage -- staffers, interns and pages. What's more, Democrats generally believe that when it comes to their public officeholders, private character doesn't matter. No Democrat will publicly say it but the way they react to scandals in their own party loudly makes that point.
Just a few examples off the top of my head. Democrats either offered muted criticism, fell silent or were openly supportive when ...
... Marion Berry, who was caught on videotape smoking crack cocaine while serving as mayor of Washington, successfully ran for the mayor's office again after being released from prison.
... Alcee Hastings, a former federal judge appointed by That Boob Jimmy Carter and later removed from the bench after being impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate in 1989 for perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice, successfully ran for the House of Representatives.
... in an act of defiance, Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds literally turned his back on the House of Representatives in 1983 as motion of censure was read against him for having sex with a 17-year-old congressional page. Studds subsequently held a press conference accompanied by the page and insisted that he did nothing wrong. Studds' heavily Democratic congressional district reelected him the following year and thereafter. He retired from the House in 1997.
... Bill Clinton repeatedly lied about having sex with a White House intern only to confirm that fact later.
... Bill Clinton was held in contempt of court by a federal judge for lying in a federal sexual harassment lawsuit deposition.
... Bill Clinton commuted the prison sentence of former Democrat Congressman Mel Reynolds, who was serving time for a variety of state and federal crimes -- including having sex with an underage campaign volunteer and illegal personal use of campaign funds.
... Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson refused to resign after being videotaped taking a $100,000 bribe -- $90,000 of which was found by the FBI hidden in Jefferson's home freezer.
... Senator Ted Kennedy, um, well, there's not enough bandwidth to list this lout's misbehaviors.
There are plenty more examples, but you get the point.
Democrats are incapable of shame and feel no need to condemn the criminal or ethical misconduct of their own officeholders. In fact, they'll even hold some of them up as martyrs to the leftist cause and work for their reelection.
So I'm betting whatever criticisms they're voicing about Hastert and the Republican leadership in the Foley matter will ring hollow and hypocritical with most voters.
If Republicans lose control of one or both houses of Congress next month (and they deserve to), it won't be the result of the Foley scandal; it will be because they were worried more with preserving Republican incumbency than advancing Republican ideals.
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