Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Dog Ate Mark Foley's Homework

Mark: I’m sorry, teacher, the dog ate my homework.

Teacher: Now, Mark, you never told me you had a dog before. Are you sure you have a dog?

Mark: Oh, yes. Or a cat. Or a at least a very large rat. Anyway, the neighbor has a dog. Well, he moved, but he still has a dog.

Teacher: Well, this is a surprise. But now that I think of it, I believe the dog did eat your homework before?

Mark: Never. Well. Six times, really.

Teacher: Ah. And where was the homework when the dog ate it?

Mark: Well, it was in his dish. …

I must say I feel a certain professional admiration (even a grudging sympathy) for Mark Foley’s lawyer as he assures us that Mark “takes full responsibility” for his conduct in the pagegate, and then goes on to catalogue all the reasons why it isn’t really his fault at all: Mark will have plenty to talk about when and if he gets his hour of contrition on Larry King.

Still, I wonder—I have no reason to doubt that he was in fact molested by “a priest or minister or rabbi or imam,” as his attorney said (did I just a smidgen of skeptical asperity here?). But Mark is 52. And in most human situations, he seems to show pretty good capacity for impulse control. Assuming he is in fact still the captive of his early misfortune (near 40 years on)—did he warn anybody about his dangerous tendencies? Will we soon see the speech where he told the voters of South Florida:

You need to know that if you send me to Congress, you will be reposing your trust in a dangerously sick man: victim of curse that I have lived with for near a half a century. I try to deal with my curse—for example, by putting myself in situations where I will be tempted to impose the same kind of curse on others in the new generation. But I can assure you that, for all my dangerous risk-taking flirtations, I have never actually engaged in the misconduct that we all find so appalling and that I find so beguiling.

No, I thought not. Well, if not to the voters, did he tell it to the Republican pooh-bahs in his district before they signed him on as a candidate?

Okay, heavy-handed, but this last question is not quite rhetorical. Local politics is a small, intimate, not to say incestuous, world. It’s hard for me to believe that the local pooh-bahs did not know exactly what sort of unexploded bomb they were dealing with here—figuring that it wasn’t really their problem, except insofar as it was it was a political risk, and that they could manage the political risk.

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