Studds not only kept his job, but received standing ovations from Democratic crowds following the censure votes. The Washington Post reported one such occasion in 1984: "Studds marched in the parade of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the event of the year for New Bedford, an old whaling port whose population is 60 percent Portuguese American. All along the four-mile route the crowd broke into applause as he approached. Women waved from the balconies of double-decker row houses. Men toasted him with beer cans and cheered." This after Studds admitted to liquoring up and seducing a teenager whose parents had entrusted the boy to Congress' care.
Unlike his predatory predecessors, Foley now faces a criminal probe into his behavior. If the Republican leaders were slow to react to the initial allegations against Foley -- and they were -- it is clear they're serious now about punishing the offender, which is more than can be said of the Democratic leaders who were in charge of Congress a generation ago.
One difference, of course, is that thanks to Foley and others in Congress, it is now a crime to use the Internet to solicit sex from minors. But it would be some irony if sending vile instant messages to underage boys resulted in jail time for a Republican, while getting a teenager drunk and statutorily raping him resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist and 12 more years in Congress for a Democrat. Hypocrisy, it seems, is a bipartisan offense.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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