It’s the same, but it’s different

The partisans have taken the Foley debate to its predictable point — finding the previous page “scandal” and comparing notes, and adjusting appropriately to come to the conclusion that their side is better. Yawn.

But Michael Barone, hardly an apologist for the left, has a more interesting perspective — expulsion would have been appropriate for Foley, but censure was appropriate for Gerry Studds and Dan Crane.

Why? I guess you could call it the “ick factor.” We know more details now about these things than we did then.

How ’bout that Internet!

  • Bob,

    Unless I’m reading incorrectly, Barone advocates expulsion for all 3 (or would have done so in the case of Studds and Crane).

    One could conclude that it is the “ick factor” that caused Barone to call for Foley’s ouster. A more likely conclusion, however, is that the right takes these improprieties more seriously than the left.

  • Or at least our rank and file (and commentators) do.

  • Bob Collins

    This was my take-away:

    “I recall feeling that censure was the right punishment then, and in the case of Foley, my first impulse was to feel that expulsion was the right punishment now.”

    Better lead me to the water on this one, G.

  • BC,

    You are correct. That’s his “first impulse”. But if you read further, I think he says it sets a double standard. Either Foley should have simply been censured or Crane and Studds should have been expelled. I am basing this on the paragraph, below, that starts with “That’s not logical”. Barone goes on to say that “the same penalty should apply to both”.

    That said, I don’t discount the possibility that my reading comprehension is lacking.


    There seems to be just about universal agreement that Foley should have been expelled from the House. Had Foley not promptly resigned, that’s what Hastert said he would have demanded once he saw last Friday the sexual instant messages Foley had sent to former pages.

    Yet 23 years ago, in 1983, the House administered a lesser punishment–censure–when Republican Dan Crane and Democrat Gerry Studds admitted to having had sex with two pages, Crane with a 17-year-old girl and Studds with a 17-year-old boy. So the standard seems to be that having sex with a serving page, for whom Congress has custodial responsibility, merits censure. But sending dirty IMs to a former page, for whom Congress no longer has custodial responsibility, merits the much harsher penalty of expulsion.

    That’s not logical. You could argue that this is a case of distinction without a difference. But in that case, the same penalty should apply to both. Foley, if he had stayed in Congress, should have been censured. Or Crane and Studds should have been expelled.

  • Bob Collins

    Probably worth noting that Newt Gingrich at the time was demanding expulsion and apparently the leadership felt different.

    So perhaps the story that the the partisans have tried to put out — that the Republicans are scummier than the Democrats, or that the Democrats are scummier than the Republicans, or that both are scummy — or not — equally… but that our outrage is entirely situational and isn’t really our outrage, but our self interest.

    But we’ll never admit it.

    Of course, now we’re into what I find interesting about politics, which is not the politics per se, but using politics as a mirror to reflect on who WE are.

    That’s why politics actually makes so many people uncomfortable.

  • RE: Gingrich

    That was when Bob Michel was Minority Leader and perfectly happy to remain Minority Leader in perpetuity.