Thursday, October 05, 2006

GOP is the Guilt of Persona

In 2004 there was a minor hubbub concerning the Florida Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Senator Bob Graham. Mark Foley was THE candidate for the Senate however he dropped his bid early on, the 2004 elections were over, and Mel Martinez was the victor.

The hubub was not so much over Foley's political views (which by the way are more moderate than your modern day Santorum morality slinging neo-conservative), but over his sexuality. Florida newspapers badgered him with questions, he blamed the democrats for directing this against him, but in the end he responded that the sexuality inquiries were "revolting and unforgivable". I would not go so far as to say they are revolting, but the essence of what he was trying to say was well intentioned; his sexuality should have no effect on his ability to be a public servant. If anything his sexuality may have given a more intimate, well informed view of the needs of his constituents as he had been a long time advocate of LGBT issues.

In the era of Karl Rove, your moral compass no longer matters. One of Foley's main competitors in the 2004 Senate race was Mel Martinez who would eventually be groomed by Rove and win the seat. If you followed Martinez history you would see him as the type of rags to riches story that the GOP loves to peddle off as a success of trickle down economics. Sent to America from Cuba by his parents, he rose to become the Mayor of Orlando and a prominent trial lawyer especially active against tort reform.

If you want to win, you have to sell your soul, your message becomes a message pre-concocted in a formula that is nearly guaranteed to win as long as you follow the play book. It is a strategy sans morality and all about getting the prize. Martinez was chosen for his background and his story, after which everything was abandoned and Mel became a mouth-piece for a no-fail strategy. Martinez called his competition out, his campaigned rallied against Bill McCollum, labeling him "the new darling of the homosexual extremists." for supporting a bill against hate crimes.

When you wake up in the morning and you have said these things or sanctioned them, how do you look yourself in the mirror and live with yourself? In the end the St. Petersburg times newspaper withdrew their support for him, Bill McCollum looked like he was going to strangle someone during their debate, and Jeb Bush had to shake his head in disgust and tell Martinez to stop. Martinez blamed the anti-homosexual flyers on his staff, and one chief staffer blamed it on a junior staffer. As you would expect, nobody knows who was fired and nobody was willing to be held accountable. What is surprising... but also not very surprising at the same time, is that two prominent members of Martinez's staff at the time were gay. As with everything, the gay bashing was a one man operation that everyone can claim to be unaware of, no one took a stand, not even those that it affected the most and in the closest proximity.

Perhaps times change and so do people. As we return to Mark Foley, the once pro-gay rights congressman, we notice that Foley voted for (and passed) legislation allowing faith-based groups to throw anti-discrimination laws out the window. Foley was lucky at the time that Katherine Harris (who proudly states our constitution is directly based on the 10 Commandments) and Rick Santorum (who equated that homosexual acts between consenting adults is on par with bestiality, bigamy, adultery, and incest) are not in control of the US Government as they would most likely label it as a faith-based group and outlaw homosexuals from it.

That brings us to the Mark Foley of October 2006. The Mark Foley who is about to be under investigation for pedophilia, wrote lewd emails to congressional pages and had cyber sex with them at times before congressional votes; the Mark Foley who is the shame of his party and of his peers. I honestly feel bad for former congressman Foley. Here was a man that liked young boys, while ironically being a champion for the drive against child pornography and child exploitation. His whole world has fallen apart. While in typical fashion the apology given was not for his misdeeds but other things. His lawyer lets us know that he has checked himself into rehabilitation, was abused by a clergyman, and is a gay man.

While Foley was right when he said that his sexual orientation should not affect his ability to serve our nation, he is very much in the wrong in moving the conversation from what is wrong with him to what is wrong with the world around him. He is doing a disservice to the gay population at large by outing himself alongside a string of apologies. We are left with the impression, not that he was a pedophile, but that regardless of politics, gays are a danger to our impressionable children. This was not the message that should have been sent to the world, he's done everyone a disservice.