Former Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) may have started this decline (or did he merely reflect declining morality?). Studds had an affair in the early '80s with a 17-year-old male page. Studds was censured by the House, but famously turned his back to the Speaker in an act of disrespect and rejection of the judgment by his colleagues. He refused to resign and was re-elected to several more terms. A homosexual organization donated $10,000 to his campaign.
Rep. Daniel B. Crane, (R-Ill) had an affair more than two decades ago with a 17-year-old female page. After apologizing, he said he hadn't violated his oath of office, hoped his wife and children would forgive him and announced plans to run for re-election.
We all have what theologians call a "fallen" nature and no one should judge himself (or herself) morally superior to others. But that does not mean the standard for "right" behavior should be eliminated simply because many appear unwilling to conform to that standard.
In his classic, "The Abolition of Man," C.S. Lewis observed three generations ago that we are engaged in a type of tragic-comedy: "Šwe continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. Š In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."
Scandal? Disgrace? I think not. Foley and others could only be so labeled if popular culture condemned, rather than promoted, immorality. Oh, sorry, there I go again, appealing to a discarded standard.
We do laugh at honor and as a result we do find traitors in our midst. We also mock conventions and then are surprised when some take us seriously and respond as if there are none. Congressman Foley can look forward to talk show fame and a lucrative book deal. Welcome to America, 2006!
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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