As one who just joined the Republican Party this year, I have to say that I was extremely disheartened at first by the events surrounding Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley.
Foley, as you may know if you haven't been living in a cave, recently resigned after it was revealed that he had been sending suggestive, sexually explicit e-mails and text messages to male House pages, some as young as 16 years old.
Whether your little peccadillo involves adultery (Rudy Giuliani), gambling (William Bennett), or even petty theft (Claude Allen), you used to be able to count on party leaders to claim (1) It's all a political ploy; (2) Hey, he said he was sorry, now leave him alone; (3) This is all really Bill Clinton's fault.
Now, just because Foley's sexually harassing teenagers, they started acting like he's radioactive or something. I started asking, have these people forgotten the unofficial motto of the party, namely IOKIYAR (It's OK If You're a Republican)?
As always, I want to make it clear that I have no intention of ever actually needing my fellow Republicans to watch my back. I'm not planning to describe my manly parts to any teenagers, male or female, and certainly not in any medium that can be easily copied and disseminated across the World Wide Web.
Nor have I any plans to gamble away millions, steal from Target, or commit indiscretions with female staffers.
It was just the idea that if I did, there'd be an entire American political party there to defend me that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
It's not like Foley didn't make all the right moves after the scandal came to light. He resigned, said he was sorry and checked himself into rehab.
Now, this last bit may seem odd at first when you consider that Foley claims he wasn't drunk on the House floor when he was sending lewd text messages to teenage boys. But who really cares? When you screw up, you have to check into rehab. How else will people know you're really sorry?
So after Foley did the whole mea culpa dance, did the party do its duty and close ranks behind him? Heck no. There was a whole bunch of "investigation this" and "FBI that" and a lot of hand-wringing about who knew about this ahead of time.
One Republican congressman, Kentucky's Ron Lewis, even said, "If anyone in our leadership has done anything wrong, then I will be the first in line to condemn it."
Sounds more like that liberal mania for accountability than something a good Republican would say. This was not the party I joined a few months ago.
Fortunately, after a few days, some members of the party began to come to their senses and started putting the blame for this whole situation where it really belongs, by which I mean the media and the Democrats.
"You're feeding right into the Democrats," scolded Rep. John Shimkus, who heads the House organization that's tasked with looking out for House pages. "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. This is an October surprise, and you guys have fallen hook, line and sinker for it."
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert voiced a similar sentiment: "We have a story to tell, and the Democrats, in my view, have put this thing forward to try to block us from telling the story. They're trying to put us on defense."
Now that's more like it! The real crime, after all, is not sexually harassing teenage boys, but reporting about it.
And in election season, while the Republicans are trying to "tell their story," too! What were these reporters thinking?
I mean, Kirk Fordham, chief of staff to the head of the National Republican Campaign Committee, has come forward and revealed that he'd told Hastert's office about Foley's e-mail habits three years ago. If the speaker's office can keep this sort of thing under their hats for three years, shouldn't a few reporters be able to keep their mouths shut to avoid influencing the election? How dare they make a big fuss over the leadership ignoring reports of sexual predation? Don't they care that we're at war with terrorists who want to cut our heads off?
So it's good to know that, while a few weak sisters in the GOP are losing their backbone, there are still a few people who'll stand up for the party's guiding principle, its polar star, if you will: IOKIYAR, even if "it" is propositioning teenage boys.
It restores my faith in the party. Not that I mean to do that, mind you. I'm just saying.