It is also beyond easy to recognize how the Democrats have decided to make national political hay out of this ugly sex scandal – as far as we know, a sex talk scandal. On Monday morning, the network news shows were predicting excitedly that this could be a killer issue for Democrats.
“But this is more than just one man’s downfall,” insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. “It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections.” NBC’s story then carried angry soundbites from outraged Democrats.
“Any legislative leader that knew ahead of time and did nothing should resign,” thundered Rep. Sherrod Brown. Then came Sen. Dick Durbin pointing the accusatory finger at the GOP leaders: “The fact that they didn’t stop him, the fact that they didn’t bring in law enforcement -- I think they have to be held accountable.” Both ABC and CBS asked Tony Snow on Monday morning whether Republican House leaders should resign.
Stop. Since when have the Democrats ever insisted a politician be held accountable for a sex scandal involving a staffer, let alone the politician’s party leaders? Take Senator Durbin. Did he vote on any impeachment counts against President Clinton for perjury or obstruction of justice over
Did Democrats – the party of feminism, the party that hates sexual harassers – demand accountability when President Clinton was accused of putting Kathleen Willey’s hand on his crotch as she asked for a job? Or demand accountability when President Clinton was accused of dropping his pants in front of Paula Jones and asking that state employee to kiss his genitalia?
You know the answers. Let’s continue.
Did Democrats – who must have chortled at the 1996 GOP convention when NBC anchor Tom Brokaw suggested the Republicans don’t think much about “women’s issues” like rape – demand answers from President Clinton when Juanita Broaddrick tearfully recounted to NBC in 1999 how Bill Clinton raped and brutalized her in a Little Rock hotel in the late 1970s?
The press was equally complicit in the politics of silence. The New York Times and the Washington Post did a few stories on inside pages in August, no national partisan disaster. The three networks left a vacuum of silence from August 26 until September 12, when CBS and NBC, but not ABC, mentioned the ethics committee decision in brief, almost meaningless anchor items. Not one ran a full story.
In 1994, news emerged that Democratic Rep. Mel Reynolds had a consensual sexual relationship with Beverly Heard beginning when she was 16. Heard said Reynolds gave her cash at each meeting and supplied her with his pager number and apartment keys. In taped phone conversations, they even plotted group sex with a 15-year-old Catholic high school girl Heard had said wanted to have sex with him. The infamous Reynolds reply: "Did I win the Lotto?" He asked Heard to take photos of the girl’s private parts. Reynolds was convicted of criminal sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography. The networks barely touched on this story as it broke in 1994, and ended with conviction in 1995, which is why, dear reader, I bet you don’t even remember it.
Did the Democrats believe in holding Reynolds accountable? Bill Clinton pardoned him as he left office in 2001. He then went to work as a consultant for Jesse Jackson.
Don’t forget 1983, when Republican Rep. Daniel Crane and Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds were censured by the House for sexual affairs with teenage pages (Studds with a male). Crane was defeated in 1984; Studds arrogantly continued in Congress another thirteen years. On July 14, 1983, when the House ethics committee recommended action, ABC’s Peter Jennings made sure the viewers at home knew Daniel Crane was a hypocrite, who vowed to stand up for the “God-fearing” people when Congress considered legalizing most sex acts in the District of Columbia. He had no embarrassing old quotes for Studds.
The hypocrisy here is as nauseating as the Foley e-mails.