Pat Buchanan's Diversionary Spin on Foleygate

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pat Buchanan's Diversionary Spin on Foleygate

Pat Buchanan is the latest conservative looking for any possible spin to turn Foleygate into a partisan club that can be used against Democrats. In a column published today, Buchanan tests this newest talking point:
How can Democrats credibly denounce a 52-year-old gay man for sending dirty instant messages to a 16-year-old, when Democrats have legalized sex with 16-year-olds in (Washington) D.C.? Isn't that a mite hypocritical?
By framing the issue as a singularly sexual one, Buchanan (perhaps deliberately) misses the bigger picture.

This is really about members of Congress, who are essentially acting as employers, taking advantage of their power over "employees" (pages) to make inappropriate overtures. A page is hard pressed to resist a congressman's overture, sexual or otherwise, without risking his or her position or some form of retaliation.

This is why, for example, the age-of-consent laws in Illinois and New Hampshire refer to whether the adult in question holds a "position of authority" over the minor. A friend of mine once summarized the principle in these crude terms: "You just don't fuck the help."

What Foley did was wrong, regardless of whether a criminal prosecution can be pursued in the District of Columbia.

Besides, as Buchanan surely knows, Congress wields veto authority over just about any law that D.C. passes. If the District's age of consent is so shocking to him, why doesn't he ask his conservative brethren in Congress to override the D.C. law? They've been more than willing to invalidate other D.C. laws.

Of course, if Congress thinks that 16 is too young an age of sexual consent, then their concern should extend far beyond D.C.

A review of state age-of-consent laws shows that the District of Columbia is one of many jurisdictions with 16 as the unqualified age of sexual consent.

This list of "16" states includes a host of red states where conservative policies generally reign: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and several others.

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