We’re good at embarrassing ourselves in Palm Beach County and its environs. ‘Til now we haven’t been able to find a supervisor of elections who can count, we are challenged by chad, and we have a 16th Congressional district that seems to have some kind of hardwired feature that catches its sitting congressperson in a compromising sexual situation.
Democrat Tim Mahoney just found that out afresh, when less than a month before his re-election, it was revealed that he’d paid $121,000 to a former mistress to keep her from suing him. Mahoney himself had only won his first-term seat because Republican Mark Foley’s name couldn’t be removed from the ballot, his own scandal over white house pages breaking just before the 2006 election.
Maybe there’s something about Florida’s 16th that brings out the randy in a politician, or maybe its just serendipity, but there’s definitely something about Foley that makes any suggestion that he’s coming out of self-imposed exile to get back into politics another embarrassment for Palm Beach County. When it comes to Mark Foley, there’s no there there.
Even two years after his embarassing fall from grace, he’s still offering a set of excuses so peppered with appeals to 12-step-style spins that he could build a fire escape from them. It was his alcoholism. No, it was the priest that abused him as a child.
But it wasn’t any of those, it was the kind of blind ambition that lets a politician trade away everything that matters to keep his power, no matter whom he hurts. Fact is, he did nothing illegal, and nothing that would have resulted in anything more than a raised eyebrow if it had been done to female pages.
Trouble was, Foley was the Republican who chaired the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which brought a whole fox-and-henhouse spin to it. And now, he’s back, giving the traditional “Breaking his Silence” interview to local NBC-affiliate WPTV.
When he talked about politics he had “a twinkle in his eye,” that led reporter Roxanne Stein to not rule out a return. and that should scare us all. Ex-congressman Foley has a rich history of doing or saying whatever it takes to get or stay elected, whether that’s switching to Republicanism coming from a Democratic family, to walking over his own people (he has suddenly started talking about his “partner”) when it came to gay-rights and gay-protection legislation, to producing an effluent of excuses when he was outed.
And when I say outed, I don’t mean as a gay man. It was “the worst kept secret in Palm Beach County.” I mean outed as a phony and a fraud. We have enough weasels here (Limbaugh, Coulter, Trump) without resurrecting one more.