Let's open it up on the Mark Foley story.
I'll start with an answer to "Why would the House leadership ever cover this up?" [Did I make it clear that the question is hypothetical, and that we don't yet know what the leadership knew or when they knew it?]
Answer - if the pages in question had been girls, Foley would have been shot at dawn.
However, picture this headline - "House Leadership Boots Allegedly Gay Republican On Trumped-Up Pedophilia Charges". Ugly. Worth Avoiding. Listening to Andrew Sullivan decry the homophobes in the House would not have been worth it. So they played it a bit too cautiously and slowly and here we are.
That is one bit of WILD SPECULATION. Another theory is that we will find out that Foley was some sort of extraordinary fund-raiser, even by the standards of Florida Republicans. Otherwise, I can't think of a reason not to quickly boot Foley in 2005 when indications of a problem first came to light.
MORE: Times coverage - Re Hastert's performance, Nun dare call it "Papal".
The key bit seems to be that the e-mails they knew about were much less lurid than the ones that we all learned about after ABC News broke the story. Helpful emphasis added:
Aides to the speaker and other Congressional Republican leaders said the messages, which an Alexander aide described to them as “overfriendly,” were much less explicit than the others that came to light after ABC News first disclosed the e-mail correspondence with Mr. Alexander’s page. The aides said Mr. Alexander’s office, at the request of the page’s family, did not show them copies of the messages. In those messages, sent after Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Foley asked about the well-being of the boy, a Monroe, La., resident. He wrote: “How are you weathering the hurricane. . .are you safe. . .send me a pic of you as well.” The page sent the note to a former colleague, describing it as “sick.”
In another message, Mr. Foley wrote, “What do you want for your birthday coming up. . .what stuff do you like to do.”
The e-mail exchanges that came to light after the first news reports were far more graphic. When he was confronted about them on Friday, Mr. Foley resigned. Republican leaders said they had not known about the other e-mail correspondence.
“No one in the speaker’s office was made aware of the sexually explicit text messages which press reports suggest had been directed to another individual until they were revealed in the press and on the Internet this week,” the statement from Mr. Hastert’s office said.
STILL MORE: Re the "Allegedly gay" above - Andrew Sullivan says that Foley was a closeted gay, and discusses the possible psychological consequences:
Equally, the news about Mark Foley has a kind of grim inevitability to it. I don't know Foley, although, like any other gay man in D.C., I was told he was gay, closeted, afraid and therefore also screwed up. What the closet does to people - the hypocrisies it fosters, the pathologies it breeds - is brutal....
What I do know is that the closet corrupts. The lies it requires and the compartmentalization it demands can lead people to places they never truly wanted to go, and for which they have to take ultimate responsibility. From what I've read, Foley is another example of this destructive and self-destructive pattern for which the only cure is courage and honesty. While gays were fighting for thir basic equality, Foley voted for the "Defense of Marriage Act". If his resignation means the end of the closet for him, and if there is no more to this than we now know, then it may even be for the good.
I can not speak with any authority on Mark Foley's personal or political evolution. However, the Defense of Marriage Act cited by Andrew was from 1996; although their website has been updated, the Google cache indicates that the Log Cabin Republicans had endorsed Mark Foley for the 2006 elections.
Why might that have been? Here is a Sept 14, 2005 news release from the Log Cabin Republicans praising thirty House Republicans (including Foley) who sided with the Democrats to pass an amendment to a hate crimes bill, extending its coverage to LGBT Americans.
I have no idea what side Foley has taken on other issues over the years, but surely there have been some relevant votes since 1996; this could be a real opportunity for any Foley apologists who care to step forward.
WHERE ARE THE DEMS HEADED WITH THIS? IF, I say IF, the House leadership only knew about the first, less suggestive batch of emails and let Foley slide with a warning, what will the Democrats complain about - will their position be that gay men who make one mistake should be barred from the House? What next - just for openers, will they want to re-think their view of gay men leading Boy Scout Troops? And just what law will they claim was broken of the pages were sixteen or older - it is not clear from this list that if Foley had consummated a relationship it would have broken a law. [Ahh, apparently age 18 is the cutoff for hot internet chat - do, don't talk.]
Well, since there is no apparent crime here, this is clearly a case for Special Counsel Fitzgerald. From Clarice Feldman:
Maybe Fitz can be appointed--then he can fail to ask CREW how they got the IM's, ignore their political motivations, conflate their partisanship with "whistleblowing" and nab Hasstert for forgetting when he went to the bathroom on the day he heard about the emails.
THE ABC TIMELINE: How did the emails arrive in two waves? Here is ABC News:
This all came to a head in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, we asked the congressman about some much tamer e-mails from one page, and he said he was just being overly friendly. After we posted that story online, we began to hear from a number of other pages who sent these much more explicit, instant messages. When the congressman realized we had them, he resigned.
Gee, who knew an on-line posting from ABC News could have such impact, and so quickly? And who knew these high schol pages could establish contact with ABC News so easily?
This looks like the first ABC story. How did they get the emails? Via the Passive Voice:
In the series of e-mails, obtained by ABC News, from Rep. Foley (R-FL) to the former page, Foley asks the young man how old he is, what he wants for his birthday and requests a photo of him.
ABC followed with the ritualistic call for an investigation by Foley's opponent.
Well, journalistic integrity won't allow ABC to duvulge their sources, so readers will be left to their own imagination in wondering whether this was a political hit-job.
This Timeline at TPM is helpful.
The key for the Attack Dems is to pretend that the House leadership knew about *all* the emails, especially the ones that were brought forward after the first ABC story. Here is The Nation:
Fair enough. But what do these Republican leaders think about those who knew about Foley's undue interest in male pages, covered the fact up for months – perhaps years -- and then lied about what they knew. Should they, too, face "the full weight of the criminal justice system"?
When the news of Foley's emails broke in the media, Hastert declared, "I was surprised."
Really? That's strange.
Congressman Tom Reynolds, who chairs the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, revealed on Saturday that he had informed Hastert months ago about concerns regarding Foley's habit of sending sexually suggestive – "strip down and get naked" -- e-mails and instant messages to male congressional pages.
Per ABC News a similar quote - "strip down and get relaxed" - was among the emails and IMs obtained by ABC *after* their initial story.
We have no doubt The Nation will be in a hurry to correct their mis-quote and their false impression as to what the House leadership has admited to knowing.
Apparently, this is the website that started it all - StopSexPredators.blogspot.com.
After reading your post on skinterns I wanted to fill you in on what really goes on in the halls of Congress.
I used to be a House LA on the Hill working.
When I was working up there, folks use to refer to the Terrible Three – Barney Frank, Mark Foley, and Jim Kolbe.
...neither Frank nor Kolbe have anything on Foley.
People were always talking about seeing Foley lurking in locker rooms around DC looking for sex, how he especially likes teenage boys, and frequents gay bars around D.C. and in his district.
And away we go.
Not that I have a suspicious mind, but if I had a story and was looking for a way to break it into the mainstream, this might be a good tactic.
Presumably someone will do the homework and figure out who the site author is and ask the obvious follow-ups - what did they know and when did they know it, who did the emails come from, how was that verified, etc.
A particular reason to be suspicious is that the "skintern" post focused on scantily clad young women - one might have thiought the reader emails would have included a few more hetero dirty-old-man stories. Instead, the only two that were printed focused on Foley.