I love Rep. Chris Cannon’s comments to KSL Radio’s Nightside regarding the Rep. Mark Foley teen-page scandal.nn
I love Cannon’s remarks as a blatant attempt at unabashed political spin. I love the way his follow-up explanations ooze slowly down the drain of rhetorical meaninglessness. And, of course, I love his remarks above all for their sheer stupidity.nn
Like most good Utah Republicans who know the traditional strategic playbook, Cannon could have easily crafted his remarks along the usual line about how Foley’s undoing speaks to the evils of homosexuality, garnished it with some call to arms in the struggle to maintain American “values,” then perhaps thrown in an additional rallying cry about the need for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
But as we all know by now, Cannon didn’t do any of this. Instead he wanted to talk about today’s “precocious” congressional pages and about how they seemed to be “egging” Rep. Foley “on.”nn
“These kids are actually precocious kids,” Cannon told KSL. “It looks like uh, maybe this one e-mail is a prank where you had a bunch of kids â€¦ egging this guy on.”nn
And boy did that make the listening public horny. Not horny as in lascivious, but horny as in curious or even angry. Immediately following this was Cannon’s cascading ooze of how he didn’t really mean what he said, or was misinterpreted, or needed to say more so that people didn’t think he condoned the open stalking of young pages by closeted Republican politicians.nn
Today’s kids are “precocious,” he explained, because they “know more than I did at that age,” he told the Deseret Morning News. It’s another way of saying that, “Thanks to the godless liberals, today’s kids know more about lurid sex than I would have at that age.” So here we see Cannon beginning to reclaim his footing, only to lose it once more in comments to Salt Lake City’s other daily newspaper.nn
Foley’s a right creep, Cannon reassured us. But hey, parents share responsibility as well. “Frankly, this is the responsibility of the parents,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune. Say what?! “If you get online, you many find people who are creepy. There are creepy people out there who will do and say creepy things. Avoid them. That’s what you have to do. And maybe we can say that a little more to the pages.”nn
So, there you have it, pages. Avoid creepy people. And listen up parents, please teach your children in the ways of righteousness before sending them off to Washington, D.C. You never know what those crazy elected representatives might try to pull, especially if they’re Democrats. These unscrupulous people will try to break your Republican Party loyalty. They’ll insinuate that House Speaker Dennis Hastert knew about Foley’s shenanigans long before they broke. It’s all a ruse, because â€¦. because â€¦ well, because â€¦ hello, anyone, are you still listening?nn
Many of us remember Cannon as the firebrand on Capital Hill during President Clinton’s 1998 impeachment over the Lewinsky affair. Even as al-Qaeda was hatching its criminal plots, the nation’s Republicans were transfixed with glee over the prospect of finally getting Slick Willy where they wanted him. The Whitewater “scandal” was a bust. So, too, was, “Troopergate.” But everyone understands and loves a sex scandal, especially when you’ve got a president who, finally cornered, lied under oath. Cannon had his very own presentation ready to go, replete with documentary footage of John F. Kennedy, another in our nation’s long line of adulterous presidents, talking about the importance of rule of law. It took Cannon a couple tries to cue the footage correctly, but he eventually got his point off the ground.nn
Not so in this instance, of course. Because the actions of a Republican horn dog, you see, aren’t nearly as bad as those of a Democratic horn dog. It’s all about party loyalty, of course. It’s thinking like this that’s moved our nation’s two political parties closer to the line of street gangs or mafia rackets. In Cannon’s case, it’s thinking like this that moves him dangerously close to condoning the actions of sexual predators. As long as they’re Republican, of course. As The Godfather’s Michael Corleone said to his brother Fredo, “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family.”nn
Aside from its potential as election-year fodder, the Foley scandal is hardly worth our full attention. We’ve known about sexual predators before Foley let loose with his, “Do I make you a little horny?” Unless it comes to light that Foley actually got his hands on a young page, it’s likely nothing more will come of it. And it’s more than a little boring to watch everyone reaffirm the fact it’s wrong for any adult, homosexual or heterosexual, to be caught drooling over teenagers.nn
In Utah, at least, what’s truly curious is not just Cannon’s bizarre words, but 2nd District Rep. Jim Matheson’s virtual nonresponse as well.nn
As everyone knows, Matheson himself is a virtual non-Democrat. But he could score big political points with a brash condemnation of Cannon’s tongue-twisting explanations where the Foley affair’s concerned. Given Matheson’s healthy lead over Republican opponent LaVar Christensen, it’s not like he needs to. Instead, however, Matheson knows he’s got to placate Utah Republicans who’ll help him retain his seat. Capitalizing on the Foley scandal, however, would rile the very Utah Republicans he’s counting on for support next month.nn
It’s one thing to see a Utah Republican defend his party and make a fool of himself. It’s even more bizarre to witness the silence of a Utah Democrat over the same lurid scandal, all seemingly so he might placate the Republicans he needs to remain in office. That’s Utah politics, folks. Are we even just a little bit embarrassed that it’s grown this weird?