But for the Democrats to be clutching the draperies in horror is a little hard to credit. This is not the first time members of Congress have hit on pages. In 1983 there was a bipartisan page scandal. The Republican, Dan Crane, had been involved with a teenage girl page. He tearfully apologized but was defeated in the next election in a heavily Republican district. Gerry Studds, a Democrat, was involved with a teenage male page. But Studds was re-elected six more times by his Massachusetts constituents. Both Studds and Crane admitted to having sexual affairs with the 17-year-olds. And while the House censured both men, neither resigned. Foley has so far not been charged with actually touching anyone.
It goes without saying that if the Republican leadership had moved against Foley based solely on his "overly friendly" e-mails, they would have been accused of homophobia, of drawing prejudicial inferences based on the fact that he was gay. It is also the case that a number of leading Republicans and conservatives have called upon Speaker Denny Hastert to resign. How many Democrats called for Bill Clinton to resign? Ted Kennedy? William Jefferson (of the cash in the freezer fame)?
But the Democrats, who overlook so much by so many, and who instructed us sternly that Bill Clinton's affair was a trivial matter despite the fact that it fit the classic sexual harassment scenario the Democrats themselves enshrined in law, are fortunate that Foley's target was under 18. If he were older, they would be debarred from expressing any disapproval at all. In fact, if shame were able to silence anyone anymore, Washington would be a tomb.