October 08, 2006

Califano Page Apologia -- True, But Fails To Deal With Weak Dem Response

I've mentioned the 1980s page scandal and the anemic response of the Democrat controlled House of Representatives to the physical sexual misconduct with pages. Former Carter Administration official Joseph Califano, who headed the investigation, offers his defense of his work. I think it falls short.

The most troubling aspect of the Mark Foley scandal is not his conduct, disgusting as it was, but what the response of the leadership reveals about the rancid state of partisanship and the consequent decline of the House of Representatives. Speaker Dennis Hastert presides over a legislative body so infested with mistrust that it doesn't even have a functioning ethics committee. Since the House is incapable of washing its own dirty laundry and policing itself, the speaker has to turn over that responsibility to the attorney general and the executive branch of government.

Compare the current situation with the way Speaker Tip O'Neill and the House handled the last scandal involving sexual misconduct with pages, in the summer of 1982.

Yes, let's compare the responses -- because the GOP comes off looking much better than the Democrats, by any reasonable standard.

On The CBS Evening News With Dan Rather that June, two former pages, their teen-age faces silhouetted to hide their identity, claimed they were victims of sexual abuse by members of Congress. One described homosexual advances by members; the other shocked the nation when he said he had engaged in homosexual relations with three members and procured prostitutes for others. The CBS broadcast sparked a wildfire of reports and rumors about sexual abuse of pages and drug use by members and pages.

I cannot help but note that the original charges were later recanted by the pages , who claimed that the CBS reporter put words in their mouth and distorted what they said. Seems that Dan Rather's newscast was lying to the American people from a very early date.

But let's set aside the sins of CBS and note a difference. One situation involved charges of ACTUAL sex between members and pages. The other involved (initially) several emails that were weird but not overtly sexual. That explains the difference in how the leadership would respond.

Within a week the House had authorized its ethics committee to conduct a full investigation of allegations of "sexual misconduct, illicit drug distribution and use, and offers of preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors or drugs by Members, officers or employees of the House." House Speaker O'Neill and Minority Leader Robert Michel asked me to be special counsel to the ethics committee, co-chaired by Ohio Democrat Lou Stokes and South Carolina Republican Floyd Spence. I was allowed to select my own staff and given a commitment that I could follow the evidence wherever it led, because, as O'Neill and Michel said, "The integrity of the House is at stake."

And within hours of the salacious IMs being made public, the House leadership had driven Foley from Congress. Within a week an investigation was announced, but the Democrat leadership refused to consent to the appointment of a respected former head of the FBI to head the investigation because he had criticized the Democrat president under whom he had served and had donated money to the current Republican president. Clearly the current Democrat leadership believes that something more important than the integrity of the House is at stake -- the chance to use the scandal as a wedge issue to seize control of the House.

Assistant Deputy Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani was the point man for the Justice Department and its grand jury investigation of the charges. We agreed to exchange all relevant information and that there would be no leaks. Allegations of sexual misconduct and drug use were raw meat for a voracious, scandal-hungry Washington press corps, and Giuliani and I came across rumors and fragments of information about many members of Congress. We shared them all with each other, and there were no leaks from him or me.

The big surprise came when the two pages whom CBS had put on its evening news show recanted. They testified under oath that they had lied and that CBS reporter John Ferrugia had put words in their mouths. But uncovering the lies of the pages and the reckless reporting of CBS didn't end our investigation. We had received a host of allegations of sexual misconduct and drug use and sale by other pages and House members. We interviewed, under oath, some 2,000 past and present pages, adults who had supervised and taught them, congressional staffers, and House members. We issued scores of subpoenas.

And the FBI (which concluded the initial set of emails was not a criminal matter) is investigating again now that the IMs have been turned over to it. The matter will be investigated by the Ethics committee. Remember -- we are only 10 days from the initial revelation of the IMs.

We found no evidence of widespread sexual misconduct. We did find that Rep. Daniel Crane, R-Ill., had had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page and that Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., had sexual relations with a 17-year-old male page and had made advances to other teen-age male pages.

When I reported our findings to O'Neill and Michel, the dishonor that these members had brought on the House infuriated the two leaders. "Get it out," they said, "and let the committee recommend disciplinary action," which its four Democratic and four Republican members did, unanimously, in July 1983. Crane and Studds were censured by the House. Crane resigned his seat. Studds chose to stay on and was retained in office by his constituents for 13 more years.

But O'Neill didn't want the Ethics Committee to expel either of the members who engaged in sexual conduct with pages. Rather than really deal with the integrity of the House and say that such conduct was wrong, he supported mere censure. Newt Gingrich argued for expulsion of both the abusive congressmen -- including close ally Dan Crane -- but the Democrat-controlled leadership firmly opposed such a move. Democrats kept Studds -- a sexual predator -- around for over another decade and even gave him a committee chairmanship. Sonds like they had no concern at all about the integrity of the House. On the other hand, Crane was thrashed in his reelection attempt.

But the ethics committee had done its job well, we believed. Our investigation found other misdeeds:

House members two Democrats and a Republican had used drugs. And between 1978 and 1982 a number of House and Senate employees were involved in illicit use and distribution of drugs. All were named (Barry Goldwater Jr., who retired from the House; Fred Richmond, who admitted buying and using drugs and later pleaded guilty to tax evasion; and John Burton, who entered rehab and became a recovering addict with a productive career in the California state legislature). The employees were fired and prosecuted. The House adopted all the changes we recommended to provide far more attentive supervision of pages.

Note again -- the Republican, scion of a major political family, was run out of Congress. The Democrats continued to have active careers in politics -- until one pleaded guilty to other crimes. The other is referred to with respect. Interestingly enough, only staffers and aides were prosecuted -- no member of Congress faced criminal charges.

The course the House took in that scandal, and its reaction to the current one, show the difference between a leadership that saw a threat to the integrity of the House of Representatives and one that sees a threat to its continuing control of the institution. It's useful today to remember that there was a time when partisanship took second place to trust and the House leadership had the strength to wash its own dirty laundry.

Califano dishonors his work with this closing paragraph. The Democrat leadership allowed child molesters to stay in the House after knowing they had sex with pages. The GOP ran a member out of Congress after discovering conduct that may well be criminal but which involved no physical abuse of pages, only sexual talk. Who is the partisan here? Clearly the Democrats -- who would be howling if a gay Congressman were outed and disgraced over the initial emails.

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Comments on Califano Page Apologia -- True, But Fails To Deal With Weak Dem Response

Hey jackoff, this is the same party (GOP) that ran on a "morals" paltform you fucking schmuck.  Does this mean GOP now satnds for Geezers&Old Perverts?

|| Posted by nunyabiddness, October 8, 2006 12:39 PM ||

Hey -- do I hear billygoats approaching your bridge, you old troll?

I guess your position is theat what Tip O'Neill and the rest of the Dems (including Califano) did in the 1980s was fine becaye you folks always run on a "no morals" platform.

I guess the reason your party has an ass as its symbol is because that is where Gerry Studds liked to stick the pages.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 8, 2006 05:16 PM ||

Here is the critical difference you hypocritical fat tub of goo: On July 20, 1983, Gerry was censured for having an affair 10 years earlier with a male page. So I ask when did the Gooper leadership know of his antics and what did they do?

|| Posted by nunya biddness, October 8, 2006 06:43 PM ||

And the Dim-o-wit leadership under Tip O'Neill and his successors left him free to prey on pages again in the future.

On the other hand, the GOP leadership became aware of the secual IMs on September 29, just like the rest of America. Foley was immediately forced out of Congress, not rewarded with a committee chairmanship after insulting the House by turning his back on his fellow members in contempt whn the censure was read.

By the way -- would you (or your fellow Dim-o-wits) have been content if all that Foley got was a ensure? I think not!

By the way, I have clearly and consistently condemned Foley from the day the IMs became known. I'm glad he is gone. I want to see him prosecuted if there was a crime. So does the GOP leadership. That puts us head and shoulders above the pro-molestation Democrats who protected and rewarded Studds.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 8, 2006 08:09 PM ||

It shouldn't surprise any of us that the Republicans, when faced with yet another scandal of their own making, are pointing their fingers at everyone but themselves. It's what Republicans do. The war in Iraq? Blame the Democrats and the media. Hurricane Katrina? Blame the victims. Church sex abuse? Blame the liberals. But this scandal, like so many others under Republican Party leadership, leaves scant room for blame outside the GOP. Why? Because the same majority-building apparatus that sought to put Republicans in every position of power and influence in Washington and keep them there also created a closed system by which the true extent of bad news never left the party. Since taking over Congress and subsequently the White House, the Republicans have done everything they could to exclude the Democrats from the political process. If you're a Democrat, good luck having your legislation see the light of day. Good luck getting an oversight hearing. Good luck getting the media's attention for your next big announcement. In short, good luck.

That, to me, makes the Republican Party's claims that, somehow, the Democrats have a hand in Foleygate all the more absurd. I wish we were that organized. I wish we had the chance to point out the right's many derelictions of duty and have the mainstream media give a damn. I wish I could make a charge and see it made by a far more prominent Democrat within minutes on CNN. But it just doesn't work that way under the Republican Party's leadership. Not in today's bipartisanship-be-damned world where the Republicans are in charge and everyone else can take a permanent backseat. Not in the world of Karl Rove's creation where the party in power treats the Democrats with the same contempt as it supposedly does the terrorists. And I don't mean to tell you how to do your jobs, Republicans, but one of the consequences of one-party rule is that you lose the ability to blame anyone but yourselves when trouble hits. If one of your goals is to strip your opposition of as much power and influence and possible, don't be surprised when your claims as to their power and influence ring hollow when trouble hits. And that's a notion that gets me to my next point, and that is this: The Republicans' ongoing game of Russian roulette with Foleygate can only end badly for the right.

|| Posted by Nunya Biddness, October 9, 2006 09:12 PM ||

I'm impressed -- not a single curse word! I knew you could do it.

Now here is where I disagree with you.

In this case, if you notice, I have plenty of condemnation for Foley. I don't condemn the leadership -- at this point -- because it remains unclear what they knew last fall. If all they had was the emails and a request from the parents to just make Foley stop writing their son, then I don't see a problem with how they responded. If we find they knew of something more explicitly sexual, then I will be glad to pile on. Let's see where the actual evidence takes us, OK?

As for the rest of your post, i don't see where it has much to do with anything. If we really had the sort of one party state you claim we have, we would have run rough0-shod over you folks on judges and used the nuclear option. We would force a vote on John Bolton. We wouldn't be seeing nearly so much of the conservative movement pissed-off at the GOP over half-measures and failure to enact the conservative agenda found in the GOP platform.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 9, 2006 09:41 PM ||

Ah, I see it now -- you lifted part of a column by Joseph Hughes and posted it without attribution.

Not only a profane nameless coward, but a plagiarist who steals the thoughts and words of his betters as well.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 9, 2006 09:46 PM ||

Actually posting it here was an accident, but never-the-less, it got here. And now for the point I want to make, the next time I need a politician to tell me what my morals should be, I had better be dead. Unlike your christian fat ass I do not want government telling ANY FUCKING ONE what thier morals should be, but you conservative fucktards are so hung up on the "daddy protect us" train of thought you stupidly vote for (and to modify a word Jim Hightower likes to use) kleptocans. Want to know what the definition of politician should be (IMHO) Politician: A failed lawyer, unable to make money lawyering, who then decides to become an elected thing. Pretty funny, a fat useless DD-214less conservative fucktard calling me a coward

|| Posted by Nunya Biddness, October 9, 2006 10:01 PM ||

Not only will I continue to call you a coward and a thief, I will now add liar to the list based upon your clearly false explanation for your plagiarism.After all, you've stolen someone's words and claimed them as your own, lied when you got caught, and don't have the courage to even offer your identity or give us access to your own thoughts (all you do here is rant, curse, and insult, not present a coherent point of view).

By the way, if you really believe that government has no business legislating morals, I'm sure you will oppose laws banning racial and gender discrimination, theft, and sexual exploitation of children (the same laws we both despise Foley for possibly breaking). After all, those are clearly impositions of moral values, and we just don't need them -- or should I hand you the pistol so you can blow out your three functioning brain cells.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 10, 2006 04:21 AM ||

Gee you fucking simpleton, you never work in multiple windows??? Figures, a fucking chump teacher can't compute. Beside what the fuck good will leaving a name here do me, since I already spoof the IP address, or are you too fucking stupid to know about spoofing an IP address.

|| Posted by Nunya Biddness, October 10, 2006 07:12 PM ||

Thank you for the admission of cowardice, dishonesty, and general lack of integrity.


And by the way, i know all about working in multiple windows.  The difference is that I can keep mine straight, while you appear to be incapable of doing so.

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, October 10, 2006 08:13 PM ||

Gee, you guys are fun to watch fight. I give the match clearly to Rhymes. Nunya is just a dimwit, Dem spout-o-bot.

|| Posted by Liberals_r_stupid, October 13, 2006 02:22 PM ||

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|| Posted by zkvvtofpok, October 20, 2008 08:03 AM ||
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