So, what's your guess? Do you think the Republican leadership had former Representative Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) murdered over the weekend? Or do you think Studds just dropped dead from shock, hearing right-wing pundits, members of Congress and assorted raging nutcases bring up his ancient affair with a fully consenting, of-age, former male page on Capitol Hill, in an effort to blame "the Democrats" for the scandal now surrounding disgraced Republican Congress- man Mark Foley of Florida?
Well? Do you think the Republicans had Studds killed in order to get his "sordid tale" back in the headlines? I wouldn't put it past them. This was after they realized they couldn't blame the congressional pages for Foley's "inappropriate" and "over-friendly" attention to their bodies - their first response to the crisis - and after they found that nobody gives a damn anymore about Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick, never mind Clinton and Lewinsky. And that no matter when Dennis Hastert was "informed" of Foley's "problem," the buck really does stop with him and he should be out on his ass faster than you can say "Anita Bryant." (Sorry, kids - Anita was a '70s thing.)
"What about Gerry Studds!?" the Republi-swine all scream in unison, glancing at their "talking points." As if Studds hadn't come fully clean about his "illicit behavior" when he was first confronted with it in 1983 (although the affair in question took place years before that). As if the Democratic Party hadn't immediately issued a motion of censure. As if Studds himself hadn't shown up for that censure, rather than locking himself in rehab on a claim of "alcoholism" and "childhood sexual abuse." And as if he hadn't then gone straight to his constituency in (working-class) Massachusetts and asked them if they thought he was fit to represent their interests in Congress.
They overwhelmingly did, four more times, and thus allowed Gerry to become "the first openly gay congressman in United States history." Of which we could use plenty more, thank you, instead of all the closeted, fake-moral, pseudo-religious, creepy-crawly, cologne-drenched poofters that infest the GOP from top to bottom - to an extent quite well known inside the Beltway, and around any boot camp you can think of.
Harrumph! As Sidney Blumenthal wrote in Salon when the Foley scandal broke, the Republican Party is "the biggest walk-in closet in town," and there isn't anyone within 50 miles of Washington, D.C., who doesn't know it. The upcoming gay purges will be fun to watch, I suppose, in a grim kind of way, but I promise you they won't have any lasting effect. Any greased-up "bachelor" in denial - about the Republicans, I mean - will still find a way to slide his fingers through the cracks of the party's façade, forgiving the expression. (As my one and only gay Republican friend, a black attorney on Capitol Hill, says so precisely, "Ain't nothin' so pretty as a white boy with LIPS!")
OK. I guess I'm not really serious about the Republicans murdering Gerry Studds, although, as everyone knows, a cornered beast is the most dangerous kind, and these suckers are cornered right now, on every front - Foley, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the economy, corruption, global warming, you name it. They're ruled by an increasingly brain-dead president, an insane vice-president, a maniacal secretary of defense, a string of lobbyists, Henry Kissinger and a bucket - no, a gushing, spurting, frothing geyser - of money.
No matter which way they find to rig the upcoming elections in their favor - and I fear they will - the Rs will still be dangerous, because they're out of control and haven't got a principle to spare. Thanks to a stupid scandal involving "hard-ons" and the masturbatory habits of teenagers, however, a lot more people now realize this than they did two weeks ago. The Republicans' own snake, as it were, has come back to bite them. But watch out: They're vicious, and they won't go down without taking all of us with them if they can.
Truthfully - and with due apology to those people who think my columns are "divisive" - I believe the Republican Party is capable of anything as long as it's heinous. I know that Mr. Foley's billion-dollar attorney, David Roth, is the person in Palm Beach that everyone turns to when they're in "deep doo-doo," as President Bush Sr. used to say. Indeed, no one turns to Roth for any other reason - first, because he's too expensive and, second, because he can almost guarantee them an interview with Diane Sawyer, whom he describes as his "best friend;" she can normally be counted on to spin Roth's cases any way he wants.
I know this because Roth did that for my former brother-in-law, convicted felon Stephen Fagan, after he was charged with kidnapping his two daughters from their custodial parent, my sister, in 1998. Diane was all too happy to present the case as a big misunderstanding - if anything, "the mother's" fault - and Fagan as a squeaky-clean, perfectly devoted Dad. One who just happened to have four false Social Security numbers, three false passports, a mansion on South Ocean Drive, a $200,000 Ferrari and a reported annual income of $6500 - that is, the last time he filed tax returns, which was 18 years before.
My point: Foley won't have to worry, in the end. All the rest of us will.
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I am a historian and have been a member of the Coolidge Foundation since 1972.