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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media


L’affair Foley has, of course, dominated the Sunday talk shows and front pages. It’s got every element to a great political scandal, but most importantly, it has the one that counts: sex. The President of the United States- or, more precisely, his bureau- can manipulate information previous to a war, his network can rig the electoral system, his Vice President can fleece the American public in back-door deals with the energy lobby and only a small segment of the population will notice- or even be upset!

But mention sex, and it all comes paddlin’ home. With the Church abuse scandal a recent memory, it is unfortunate for the GOP that this scandal involving their Florida Congressman, Foley, so closely mirrors the previous one to befall the Catholics. Pictures online show House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert shrugging and looking sullen pasted next to pictures of Bernard Cardinal Law doing much the same. There have been calls for Hastert to resign, and again, he is doing much the same as Law; resisting until the last possible moment. He, like Law, is a man who has devoted his life to accruing power in a system, and overnight he is seeing that power slip away from him. It can’t be a pleasant seat he’s on.

This, of course, does not end with Hastert. Besides the who-knew-what-and-when-did-they-know-its, it’s; why does this story matter? It matters because it shows that the supposed moral high ground of the Republicans was really just a landfill bubble. It’s been a shuck-and-jive game where the extremely wealthy Republican donors, not being able to win with the little people, you and me, economically, play instead to the moral leanings of evangelical voters. And they’ve done a good job in that. However, the Republican elite, the Washington types Foley ran with, often do not adhere to the values they profess to. As long as they can keep up the front, they are golden; Foley was running with the full backing of the Republicans, despite offering to retire. “Keep it up, Foley,” they told him. “You’re doing a heckuva job.”

It’s sad, because what if the Republicans were not just shams ham-handedly pandering to the tent-revival and Hemi-powered pickup truck set (not that there’s anything wrong with that), what if they were a true expounder of moral good in the country? What if they actually did see where America was going wrong, and had sensible plans on going about fixing it? The Democrats would never be able to stop them.

Americans love a good swift kick in the pants, they love self-proclaimed “reformers” to come up and give them all the answers, and for a time the Republicans had them. And they had some of them on very strong emotional terms. You think the average Southern Bush voter, if they sat and thought about it, is going to vote for everything Bush supports? No. But Bush and the Republicans had enough of the answers, and they talked about morality- “decency” is something that strikes a chord with civil Southerners, and they voted on it. What happens then when the party of decency shelters and enables indecency in its very midst- offering it to help run for re-election?

Maybe this strikes the symbolic end of the marriage between the Republicans and their Southern “values voters”, one of those V.C. Andrews moments where the vase shatters and tears fall. Maybe it doesn’t. But when the Catholic Church scandal hit, some of the most pitiable figures were the true believers, the ones who really believed the Church were infallible. Here, the human fallout will be largely Protestant, but just as perplexed.