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So a politician at entering the first throes of a sex scandal decides to throw in the towel and resigns abruptly only weeks before election day? Big deal, right? He’s been outted as a gay man with a thing for younger men. Boys, really. He likes to harass male pages in the U.S. House of Representatives (that’s where he works), and his preferred method, or so it would seem, for contacting them? E-mail and text messaging. Hallelujah.

That’s fine. We expect this of our politicians. And no, it is no longer ironic that a closeted, child-loving politician would turn out to be a conservative Republican from the South. That’s not ironic at all. In fact, it’s predictable. Where in this country is there a bigger closet than down south? And how better to try and assert your straightness than by joining the Grand Old Party? Try to win back the love you never got from your hard-drinking, narrow-minded father by cozying up to the framed and autographed picture of Ronald Reagan you got after a summer interning at the Treasury Department in the 1980s. Tell yourself: “Remember the Treasury Dept. Try as hard as you can to forget Dupont Circle. Remember the Treasury Department. Look at the picture. Look at the autograph. Remember the GOP….”

No, it’s not ironic that Florida Rep. Mark A. Foley likes boys, and can’t control himself once he’s safely away from his electorate.

But what is ironic is that Foley, who has been outted because of e-mails (traceable) and text messages (traceable), and because the affections he was lavishing on these lads was inappropriate for their age and also unwelcome in at least one case, is in a position — perhaps even the preeminent position in this entire nation — to protect children from sexual harassment by adults. And what has he been actively trying to put into law? Yup. Legislation to protect children from harassment over the Internet. That means e-mail, for chrissakes!

Here’s how the AP put it:

“Foley, as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.”

So that’s the title we’re mulling over here. “Chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.”

The funny part is, until this little glitch in his campaign (he’s out. he’s resigned. it’s over.), he was widely expected to win. As House Speaker Denny said, “None of us are very happy about it.”

Not that it’s ironic or anything, but since the stakes are fairly high this year, it’s nice to know that the old folks who couldn’t figure out how NOT to vote for Pat Buchanan in 2000 in Florida and thus handed us the current world crises on a platter are now, at least potentially, being made up for by the same kind of closeted libido that we’re supposed to believe only belongs to Democrats.

The rule for both Democrats and Republicans alike should be: Don’t try to win the withheld love of your dead parents by trying to be the kind of politician you think they might have voted for. And that includes you, Ronald Reagan.

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