October 6, 2006
Foley's RehabBy Marc Sheppard
A Brief History of Slime
Politicians and peccadilloes —— to butcher a lyric from Sammy Cahn without regard for rhyme —— go together like a horse and carriage. And claiming that the Devil —— or, more accurately, Demon Rum —— 'made me do it,' is surely not without precedent, either. Take, for instance, the saga of Rep. Wilbur D. Mills, D—Ark, and a stripper named Fanne Foxe.
In October of 1974, the then 65 year—old and quite married Representative was involved in a scandal involving an Argentine stripper, a Tidal basin and, you guessed it — alcohol. Mills was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and was often referred to as the most powerful man in Washington, having held that chair longer than anyone in history. In the face of this shame, Mills acknowledged his alcoholism, quickly checked into a nearby clinic, and actually managed to get reelected to Congress the following month.
Surprisingly, this tactic was not quick to catch on. In 1983, the House Ethics Committee took the unprecedented action of censuring two House members for sexual misconduct. Rep. Dan Crane (R—Ill.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D—Mass.) each had sexual encounters with 17—year—old congressional pages. The former lost his bid for reelection while the latter, who had taken the boy to Morocco for the dalliance and therefore broke no U.S laws, was actually reelected continuously until his 1996 retirement. Neither blamed anything other than his overactive libido and underactive judgment for his nefarious actions.
Sure, comedian and actor Robin Williams entered rehab this July to save his marriage, as did supermodel Kate Moss last September to save her career. And both of rock legend Ozzy Osborne's kids, Kelly and Jack, followed their father's footsteps to the clinic before either had managed to achieve legal drinking age. The proud father had first checked into rehab as penance for attempting to murder his wife Sharon after an all—day vodka—drinking binge in 1989.
Still, from the time of what Ted Kennedy did to Mary Joe Kopechne with a car in 1969 to that of what Bill Clinton did to 'that woman' with a cigar, circa 1997, the rehab—for—forgiveness card was an atypical play in high stakes games. Somehow, that all changed this year.
The Year of Forgiving Dangerously
In May, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D—RI) crashed his vehicle into a D.C. security barrier while driving in the dark without the benefit of headlights. When questioned, he claimed to be en route to cast a Congressional vote, evidently unaware that it had been at least three hours since the House had adjourned for the evening. Kennedy, who is running for his 7th consecutive term next month, quickly checked into rehab and selflessly offered himself as a shining example to others:
It's certainly been a banner year for pusillanimous screen personalities, both big and small, as well. In May, TV's 'Insider' host Pat O'Brien checked into rehab, having received notice that tapes of numerous filthy voice—mail messages he had left for a female co—worker were about to go public at any moment.
Then, in July, Mel Gibson decided to unburden himself to the L.A County Deputy Sheriff arresting him for suspicion of DUI. The actor, whose screen dialogue has included the words of the Bard himself, will likely receive no Oscar nods for reciting these words for the camera:
Needless to say, in an effort to salvage Mad Mel's career, a long—standing 'problem' with alcohol was abruptly discovered and he, too, was quickly and not—so—tacitly dispatched to the nearest rehab clinic.
And just last month, Rep. Bob Ney (R—OH) agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in the congressional corruption probe spawned by discredited lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Would you be shocked to hear that CBS news reported that the Congressman apologized for his actions and said he recently realized that:
Ney found himself a friendly rehab clinic, as well as a friend in House Majority Leader John Boehner, who said that he supports his buddy in
Coincidently, when that same investigation named Foley as the recipient of $5,000 from Abramoff and two Abramoff—connected tribes, the Congressman chose to donate $2,000 of the supposedly tainted money to a local drug and alcohol rehab center. Perhaps he was presciently reserving a room.
A Sleazy way of Atonement
Indeed, the rehab clinic has become the 21st century fast—food alternative to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, or the Catholic Confessional. Here, sinners receive not only absolution, but also 12 steps of assurances that they are simply powerless to control their wicked, wicked ways. Surrendering to an upscale spa—like resort instantly removes them from the public eye while that same public digests their gruesome transgressions and, by shifting the blame from the person to the addiction, often garners them a modicum of sympathy.
And, if rehab is, truly, the last refuge of a scoundrel, then sudden claims of childhood molestation are the last refuge of a predatory one. Lo and behold, Tuesday evening news watchers were rewarded with the sight of Foley's attorney, David Roth, announcing that his client is gay and had been molested by a clergyman as a young teenager. This transparent ploy to strengthen his victim veneer, particularly with those on the left and their PR firm — the MSM, reveals a man with absolutely no discernible conscience.
Ironically, while Rabbis in religious sanctuaries around the world read verses from the Biblical Book of Leviticus last Monday for Yom Kippur, including those in Chapter 18 concerning forbidden sexual relationships, the ignominious Congressman sought protective sanctuary from which to elude responsibility and duck vital questions about similar concerns. These questions involved the FBI investigation into his forbidden sexual email and IM exchanges with underage pages. These IMs included such gems as Foley inquiring of a 16 year old male congressional page, 'Do I make you a little horny?"
I suppose alcoholism is a less bitter pill for the public to swallow than bigotry, perjury, attempted murder or shocking indecency. Still, just how many times will we allow ourselves to be bunkoed by the same tired and patently projective manipulation? Does anyone actually accept, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that addiction, any addiction, fosters deportment otherwise uncharacteristic of the addict?
Sometimes, painfully obvious answers can be found in the most obscure of places.
Dixie Chick Natalie Maines's own October surprise of 2003, in which she told a London audience that she felt embarrassed to hail from the same state as President Bush, has been widely blamed for the group's lagging ticket sales and subsequent concert cancellations. Fittingly, at this year's August appearance at Madison Square Garden in N.Y City, the singer dedicated the song "White Trash Wedding" to Mel Gibson, adding:
To their credit, in refusing to recant their dumb statement regardless of consequence, the band demonstrated more backbone and character than any of the aforementioned cloistered cowards, particularly the creepy former Congressman from Florida.
Maybe these 'chicks' aren't so dumb after all!
Marc Sheppard is a regular contributor to American Thinker. He welcomes your feedback.