Sara Robinson describes the Ultimate Betrayal. In an incisive essay she describes how the contract between the conservative leadership in the US and their Christian fundamentalist base has been violated. The Republicans have proven, once and for all, that their ability to live up to the "moral values" they so loudly preach simply does not exist. They view over-entitlement as their right and, in exercising that right, went too far.
As my theory predicted, the perpetrator was a conservative male in a position of authority, and the issue was sexual abuse. The Foley affair touches maybe a few hundred familes of pages and former pages, and a handful of members of Congress. Even so, it fits the above picture closely, because it's the kind of betrayal that every parent, no matter what their political persuasion, feels absolutely viscerally. We know, in our bones, that most of us would commit bodily mayhem on someone who attempted to molest our kids. It violates our most primal instincts, and awakens our will to righteous violence like few other threats in the human experience.Despite Foley's actions, it is the fact that the Republican leadership knew what Foley was up to and, instead of living up to the "moral values" code which they so ardently promote, they opted out. And, they continued to claim their right of over-entitlement. Hogs at the trough, engrossed in their own swill; nevermind the coyote wreaking havoc in the henhouse.
It may be even more acute for women -- and most especially, women in the red states. Blue-state women tend to be more worldly and educated, more aware of their rights, and thus more skilled in dealing with the world's ample supply of creeps. They also spend most of their time dealing with blue state men, who tend to be a bit more egalitarian in their habits (though, as anyone who watched Dateline last night knows, are apparently no less prone to move in on a 13-year-old if they think they can get away with it).
Red-state women are the ones who have to deal most intimately with overentitled authoritarian men who regard women as their property. They get to call cops who will decline to take reports or refer for prosecution; face down bosses who think that sexual access comes with the paycheck; and live their lives in the company of men -- even those in their own families who should know better -- who will do whatever it takes to convince themselves that "I know him -- he'd never do that" and besides, "she had it coming."
In this hostile environment, the only defense a woman has is bind herself to the contract that defines the conservative view of male-female relationships. She gives a man her devotion and submission. In return, he promises to provide for and protect her and her children -- even at the cost of his own life. That's the honor code "traditional families" live by, and the only safety women in authoritarian systems have.
These guys broke that contract. Conservative women put their trust in guys like Hastert. They gave him their devotion and support. According to the code, these guys were honor-bound to put themselves on the line for the women and children under their protective care. But when the bad guys came to town -- the very same bad guys they'd been specifically hollering about for decades as the number one reason that we all absolutely must submit to their protection -- our chicken-livered heroes were nowhere to be found.
Whatever the cost to the Republicans for Foley's actions and then the revelation of knowledge possessed by Hastert, Reynolds and Shimkus, it isn't enough. This episode has been a demonstration of true Republican values. A sense of entitlement, a pillaging of treasure, a minimizing of those not in power and an overwhelming capacity to cover their own asses in an attempt to maintain their own equilibrium.
As for Foley himself, the excuses, well-worn and no-longer-germain, keep tumbling out in an attempt to justify his pedophilia: He has an alcohol problem; he was abused by a priest; he's recovering.
Why don't we raise the terrorist alert status. That always used to work.