I do not live in Minnesota.
Nor have I ever written a column about any congressional race.
But what Patty Wetterling, Democratic congressional candidate in Minnesota's sixth district, just did is so wrong, so dishonest, so low even for the generally negative tone of political advertising, and so injurious to children, that I am breaking a lifelong silence on congressional races to beg Democrats and others in her district not to vote for her.
This is not motivated by partisanship; I would even prefer a candidate to the left of her. Vote for the Green candidate if there is one; write in someone to the left of her. But to vote for Patty Wetterling is to harm political discourse and compromise our society's battle against child abuse.
Her recent television ad, referring to the Mark Foley scandal, states: "It shocks the conscience . . . congressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children."
Even the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, among America's most left/liberal newspapers, which essentially endorses only Democrats, published an article under the headline, "Wetterling ad overstates facts: The TV spot by the Sixth District candidate is wrong in stating that members of Congress admitted to a coverup -- none has."
But that lie in the Patty Wetterling ad is actually the lesser of its sins. The greater sin, the unforgivable one, is its characterization that what former Republican Congressman Mark Foley did was "molest children."
Foley not only did not molest any children, to the best of anyone's knowledge, he did not even engage in consensual sex with any page over the age of consent. (There was a relationship with one adult male who had served as a page.)
So that is the second lie in the Patty Wetterling ad. No one was molested. And no child was involved at any time in any way.
That is what prompts this anger at Patty Wetterling more than her lies, which she continues to defend. It is her use of the words "molest children" when everything that happened took place via the Internet, and the youngest page to receive his cyberspace attention was 16 years old.
Now, for the sake of clarity, lest there be even one reader who is wondering, I oppose any sexual activity between a politician and a page, even of majority age. In my capacity as a nationally syndicated radio talk show host I have had numerous young women (and men, but they are not relevant to this discussion in my case) serve as interns. I have always believed that in their eyes I was supposed to represent the ideals that I stand for, not a man on the hunt for young flesh.
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