Revolution #65, October 15, 2006


The Real Ugliness Behind the Foley Scandal

The emails sent by Republican Congressman Mark Foley were ugly, but they were nowhere near as ugly as the way in which the Foley scandal has been used to silence the real debate that must go on over the dizzying list of terrible outrages being implemented by Bush. And nowhere near as ugly as the way in which the incident has been used to whip up anti-gay hysteria and witch-hunts. And the Democrats have been complicit in all of this.

Look at what the Democrats and the media are not talking about: Bush, with no real opposition from the Democrats, just got a bill saying the government can lock people up without a trial, and deny them the thousand-year-old right to habeas corpus (the right to be brought before a judge and charged with a crime if you are arrested). Bush got absolution for the torture already committed by CIA agents and others at Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib, and at secret prisons around the world, and a green light to do more torture. There is no significant opposition from the Democrats to Bush’s moves towards war on Iran.

And there’s more: The right to abortion hangs by a thread while the “right to lifers” debate when to fully come out with the next step in enslaving women—banning birth control. And, after Bush left over a thousand people in New Orleans to die, the Black and poor people of that city remain effectively barred from returning to their homes, stranded and vilified in desperate situations around the country. And just before adjourning their session, Congress funded a fence on the Mexican border that will create many more horrible deaths in the desert for people driven by global capitalism to come to the U.S. in search of work.

The Foley incident comes on the heels of what are being called “signs of life” from the Democrats—like Bill Clinton talking tough on Fox TV, and saying he’d send 20,000 more troops to hunt down Bin Laden. Or Hillary Clinton saying that Bush has lost interest in winning the war. None of this is in our interests, and it ignores the felt sentiments and real demands of millions of people including those who look to the Democrats—to get out of this horrific war.

And all this seems to have caused too many people to lose their minds. Yes, the Foley scandal, and the capital the Democrats have gotten from it, might win them some elections. But why is that a good thing? All the terrible crimes of the Bush regime are getting a free pass in all this. Plus, by refusing to oppose the gay-bashing that is running rampant, the Democrats are contributing to a Biblical-literalist anti-gay atmosphere that, taken to its logical extreme, leads to approving even things like the lynching murder of Matthew Shepard.

Republicans are using the Foley scandal to ratchet up attacks on gays. Influential Republicans are saying that nobody outed Foley because they were too concerned about being “politically correct.” CBS reported that “several other top Republican staffers who handled the Foley matter are also gay. Their role in this controversy has caused a firestorm among GOP conservatives, who charge that a group of high-level gay Republican staffers were protecting a gay Republican congressman.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force sounded the alarm that “The parallels to McCarthyism are chilling. Here it is gays, not communists, ‘operating at the highest levels of government.’…”

If you’re waiting for the Democrats to denounce all this, you may have a long wait in store for you. Indeed, a week after the scandal broke, when it became very clear that this whole gay-bashing frenzy is unleashing a McCarthyite atmosphere towards gays,—the “grassroots” arm of the Democratic Party—sent out an email that said, “The Mark Foley scandal has pushed this election to a tipping point… Reynolds [a Republican congressman] has a problem: this week, it was revealed that he knew about Mark Foley’s scandalous emails, buried them, and did nothing to intervene. Folks in his district aren’t happy that he covered his own butt instead of protecting kids—and polls show that all of a sudden, his race is neck and neck.”

While the email does not engage in open gay-baiting, where is the principled opposition to the ugly gay-bashing that has been set loose by this? And it would be hard to mistake the glee over the situation in their email.

In the truly sordid way the Foley incident is being used, and in the complicity of the Democrats in all this, we see a vivid example of why the Democrats do not represent the people’s interests. And why we need a movement to drive out the Bush regime. Without that, even if the Democrats win in the upcoming election—we do not.

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