It is also impossible to ignore the appearance of calculated grooming by Foley of potential young targets. In a June 6, 2002, farewell speech to pages, Foley effused about his teen pals -- even bragging about taking one male page out on a dinner date at Morton's steakhouse after the boy made a winning bid to have a meal with him. Given my own experience in Washington as a young college intern, when I was approached by a congressman to live alone with him for a winter term, I am sure there are many, many more such stories to be told.
Some Beltway types think it's absolutely absurd to expect the adults in Washington to have policed Foley more aggressively based on knowledge of his more "innocent" exchanges. Come on. This was a 52-year-old man instant-messaging teenagers. Hello? Would you be comfortable with your next-door neighbor doing that?
And this is not the first time the Page Program's participants have been exploited by politicians lurking in the halls of power.
In 1983, Republican Dan Crane and Democrat Gerry Studds soiled the legacy of the House Page Program after both admitting to sexual relations with 17-year-old pages. Crane abused his position of power with a female page. Studds with a male page. Crane apologized and was voted out of office. Studds was defiant, calling his "relationship" with his teen prey "consensual." He was re-elected. Then-Congressman Newt Gingrich called for both predators to be expelled. But the enablers and apologists for Crane and Studds settled for censure.
The consequences of letting their sordid behavior slide without the most severe punishment created fertile grounds for the Capitol Hill predation scandal we are witnessing today. I do not blame the media or the prey for the sins of the predators. I blame the predators -- and all of those, on both sides of the aisle, who looked the other way.