Blogs > HNN > Foley off to Rehab ... The Oldest Story in the Modern Pol's Playbook

Oct 11, 2006 8:36 pm

Foley off to Rehab ... The Oldest Story in the Modern Pol's Playbook

Mark Foley hasn't a prayer of public redemption. But he's following the pol's traditional playbook by checking himself into rehab and claiming he has an alcohol problem.

Of course, he didn't troll for teenage boys because he is an alcoholic. He became alcoholic because he wanted to go after teenage boys and knew he shouldn't.

(Note: I am told by a CNN producer that friends are saying they never saw him drink, period, so it may be that he actually doesn't have a problem with alcohol.)

Pols who have been caught in scandal always look for ways to redeem themselves. But it's only in the modern period that they have taken refuge in the bosom of the alcohol treatment center.

We can pinpoint the arrival of this development with porecision. It was in 1973 when Gerald Ford was nominated to replace the disgraced Spiro Agnew as vice president.

According to the terms of the 25th Amendment Ford had to be approved by the Congress. The process involved undergoing a gruelling FBI background check involving 359 agents. They quickly came upon evidence that Betty Ford had abused prescription drugs and alcohol.

In the old days none of this would have become public. But the counterculture had opened up the boudoir of American society tyo public scrutiny. The governing rule now was to let it all hang out. As the feminists said, the personal is political. And after Watergate it would be refreshing and almost mandatory for pols to be honest about their human flaws.

Thus did we arrive at modern times. Betty confessed all in interviews with the media and Gerald went on to become vice president and then president. In 1975 she gave a famous interview to Sixty Minutes in which she revealed her liberal opinions about abortion, premarital sex and pot. Ford's poll numbers dropped precipitously from 55 % to 38 %. America wasn't yet ready for a pill-popping first lady who winked at her children's foibles. A year later Ford nearly lost the nomination of his party to Ronald Reagan because of the bad taste the interview left in the mouths of the conservatives in the party. But America could never go back. After Betty Ford pols learned that they had to confess their sins. Most caught in the act signed up for rehab on their way to redemption.

Funny though it was usually the Republicans who made rehab an essential part of their come-backs. When Bob Boman and Jon Hinson were caught having sex with young men they headed straight for rehab. Their bahvior was so at odds witgh the conservative preachments of their party they had no choice. Democrats have had a choice. Thius Barney Frank and Gerry Studds simply admitted errors of judgment and went on with their lives. Neither fled to rehab. Both were frepeatedly re-elected.

(For background on the Betty Ford story see Gil Troy's excellent MR. & MRS. PRESIDENT.)

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

HNN - 10/11/2006

Just Google their names and you'll come up wwith plenty.

Try adding Wicki to the search.

Kenneth R Gregg - 10/7/2006

Saw you on the Glenn Beck show just a couple of minutes ago covering this subject. You were great! You handled yourself well and quick on the uptake (one of my failings onstage) with the appropriate responses.
Best to you!
Just Ken

oyster sliq - 10/3/2006

Is there a link you could recommend where one could find out more about Boman and Hinson?

oyster sliq - 10/3/2006

For someone who didn't touch the stuff, Foley seems to have talked a lot about alcohol in those emails and IM's to the underage pages.