Where’s Alice, when we need her?
The Mark Foley affair has been well-and-truly aired, both sides of the Atlantic (and, at the moment, Malcolm is the western side). Yesterday, Monday, the WSJ‘s David Rogers was summing up the weekend’s developments. In the sixteenth of nineteen paragraphs we got this:
Republican leaders issued a joint statement Saturday describing Mr. Foley’s actions as an “obscene breach of trust” and saying his resignation “must be followed by the full weight of the criminal justice system”.
Monday’s first leader was a lengthy discussion of the successes and otherwise of the 109th Congress. Just two paragraphs (of eleven) identified the achievements: they amount to two Supreme Court Justices, and “financing the war”:
Toss in bankruptcy and class-action reform, and some free-trade agreements. That’s about it for the good news.
Then comes the grief:
… the list of flops is extensive, starting with making the tax cuts permanent, repealing the estate tax and immigration reform. … Social Security reform was never going to be easy … the most puzzling abdication was … healthcare.
A Brit could easily read this as the Tebbit-Leigh-Daily Mail shopping list. The difference is that in the UK these are the aspirations of the barking Right: in Washington, the Right had all the levers of power and still failed to pull them. Hence, the lamentation of the WSJ. But, as always, there are excupations for failure: the WSJ lists them as “the troubles in Iraq” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), Hurricane Katrina and “ethical troubles” which “created a leadership vacuum”. This seems awfully familiar to anyone who lived through the dying days of the last Tory regnum: except them it was called, more concisely, sleeze and drift. Why does Malcolm instinctively sense that a Cameron régime, so far without any inconvenient stated-principles or policies has all the makings of the recipe as before?
However, says Malcolm, let’s move on.
One of the definitions of chutzpah is the guy who murdered both his parents, then threw himself on the mercy of the Court because he was an orphan. Today’s Wall Street Journal has another editorial which comes close to having that much brass.
The WSJ manages to disdain Foley for “showing a more than friendly interest in underage boys”, but substantially to exculpate Speaker Hastert (who, since he may have known of Foley’s infamy for up to a year, but did nothing, is now properly the main target in the cross-hairs). After all, (and this one is a loo-loo):
… in today’s politically correct culture, it’s easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert’s head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys.
As the WSJ must know, and if it doesn’t that’s because it is too noble to read the gutter-press, Foley went somewhere way beyond all of that. And Malcolm cannot believe that, however liberal the viewpoint, one might miss the abuse of power, not the mere difference in age, in Foley’s behaviour.
Yet, to the WSJ, the fault lies with us liberals, because a quarter of a century ago, a Democrat was only censured for similar behaviour to Foley’s. So that’s all right then.
John Junor, of the once-all-powerful Sunday Express, would have known the right expression (and, sadly, it is now a cliché and its originator forgotten): “Pass the sick bag, Alice”.