Traditional Values Coalition chairman Louis Sheldon -- a frequent White House visitor with close ties to both Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman -- says in a statement issued today that the Mark Foley scandal presents the Republican Party and "values voters" with several "historic teachable moments."
First, Sheldon says, the GOP "needs to discuss how it should deal with homosexuals inside the leadership of the party ... As radical homosexuals have been welcomed into 'the big tent,' it has become a less welcoming place for religious conservatives and a dark and dangerous place for children ... Republicans need to make a simple choice between the innocent children and radical homosexuals who prey on them."
Second, Sheldon says, Americans "need to learn the difference between pedophilia and pederasty. Homosexual activists from the Log Cabin Republicans and other liberal radicals are making the TV talk show rounds claiming that pedophilia has nothing to do with homosexuality ... The fact is that legally speaking, pedophilia is a sexual desire for boys or girls ages 13 or under. Pederasty, on the other hand, is the homosexual desire for anal sex with older teenage boys." Sheldon then says that pederasty is "the main form that male homosexuality has acquired throughout Western civilization." His support for that proposition? Words from a founder of the North American Man-Boy Love Association.
Sheldon goes on to argue that "Republicans caught in sex scandals either resign or are voted out of office" while "Democrats caught in sex scandals stay in office and are re-elected time and time again by their constituents." Maybe he's got the beginnings of a point there, but today's news suggests that it's not quite as strong as he might think. As the Associated Press is reporting, former Mark Foley and Tom Reynolds aide Kirk Fordham will tell the House Ethics Committee today that he warned Dennis Hastert's office about Foley's inappropriate conduct toward pages in 2003 and maybe earlier. Hastert's office made no effort to oust Foley then; indeed, it's not even clear that Hastert's office ever did anything to oust Foley before he decided to oust himself.
Meanwhile, Hastert seems to be telling yet another conflicting story about what he knew about Foley when. After initially denying that he'd heard of Foley's problems before they hit the press two weeks ago, the speaker acknowledged last week that while he didn't remember one way or the other, Reynolds may well have told him in the spring about Foley's e-mail exchange with a 16-year-old former page. According to conservative leader Paul Weyrich, Hastert is now saying that "if Reynolds had mentioned this problem to me, I surely would have taken notice."