It would be oh so easy for a liberal Democrat like me to gloat over Mark Foley’s political demise. How ironic that a closeted gay man became a champion for exploited children while himself being a sexual predator. I could say the hypocrite got what he had coming to him. I could rail about the Mark Foleys and Jim Wests of the Republican Party who fulminate against gays while themselves being gay. I could react with glee to the possibility that Democrats have just upped their chances of taking back the House if Foley’s Republican replacement doesn’t win in November.
But I won’t do any of that. What I want to talk about is the sheer utter waste of Mark Foley’s life. Before being outed, he was an up and coming Republican stalwart. Now, he’s just an asterisk in the ponderous Book of Scandal that is the U.S. Congress. Why did Foley feel he could not announce his homosexuality publicly and be done with it? Clearly, a public person who tries to keep a secret like this will not be able to do so long. Why not short circuit the process of flagellation and scandal by getting there first and telling the story yourself and in your own way?
I realize that Foley had a very particular set of issues: he wasn’t just gay, he liked young boys. That’s not something you talk about freely if you’re a public figure. And so possibly Foley had no choice but to keep his secret as long as he could. But one can only react with sadness to someone so addicted to his vices that he threw away his entire professional career and good name. Not to mention how much he’s hurt his party, his family and himself.
And just think about the level of profound psychological denial required for a House Representative to become the champion of the sexually exploited child while himself being a predator. In his twisted mind, I’ll bet he felt he was being solicitous of the welfare of children–at least in his Congressional work. But how in heaven’s name can a twisted mind allow two ideas so diametrically opposite to cohabit in one human being?
Finally, I’d like to say that while Mark Foley is a bad man, and one who possibly might go to jail for some of his actions; he is a man with a mental illness as well. I don’t know if there is any effective treatment for such sexual predators. But if there is Mark Foley would do himself a favor by availing himself of such help.