Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Finally, a Story Democrats Can Easily Tell

The political opportunism surrounding the Mark Foley story is getting pretty bad. Foley is a sick man who needs help. The story itself is a small and unfortunate one, worth a day or two of moderate coverage. If the Republican leadership covered-up Foley's contact with these boys, then that's a story too and worthy of more intense coverage.

But many of those who oppose the Republicans have reacted to this story with a disturbing amount of glee. (I don’t need to link – just go check out the numbers of breathless stories about Foley on any left-of-center blog.)

A Republican who's gay! Who has a thing for underage boys! Who abused his power! In an era where the lowest-common-denominator story gets top billing, this is just what the Democrats needed to cast the Republicans as hypocrites. Not enough people were paying much attention to the far bigger stories of incompetence in Iraq and at home. But people will pay attention to sex. And the media will always feed us salaciousness whenever they can.

I guess that's just the way the game is played these days. It'd probably be politically idiotic for the Democrats and their allies not to jump all over this. But does the reaction have to be so coldly and blatantly opportunistic? I don't believe too many people commenting on this even really care about Foley or the boys he coerced. They are just symbols to exploit for political gain.

And that in itself is a symbol of what’s gone wrong in our system.

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