The Foley Follies: It`s The Predation, Stupid

Washington is embroiled in another sex scandal. A
sure-bet win for the

in Florida is now imperiled. The Dems
look to be one seat closer to regaining control of the
House. But the latest one involving disgraced GOP
Congressman Mark Foley`s predatory emails and lecherous
instant-message exchanges is more than just a political

It`s a parental nightmare.

Foley`s targets were underage high school students
serving as congressional pages. I spoke with good
friends of mine a few weeks ago who were positively
glowing about their teenage son`s experience as a page
earlier this year. It is supposed to engender pride in
our country and its institutions. It is supposed to
inspire young people to public service. But
irresponsible, selfish and sick adults have turned the
Page Program into their personal sexual romper room.

For more than 150 years, these young messengers have
worked in the U.S. Congress. Daniel Webster appointed
the first Senate page in 1829. The first House pages
began their service in 1842. Most are high school
juniors at least 16 years of age. They must have stellar
academic records and enlist members of Congress to
sponsor them for one or two semester terms during the
school year or a summer session.

The pages serve principally as gophers. They carry
documents between the House and Senate, members`
offices, committees and the Library of Congress; assist
in the cloakrooms and chambers; and when Congress is in
session, they may be summoned by members for assistance.
They live in a supervised dorm near the Capitol. They
wear uniforms and take classes. It`s a highly
competitive process to become a page, and it`s an
exclusive and exciting opportunity to see Washington up

Parents put full trust in Congress that their
children will be safe.

You can`t possibly read

Foley`s reported communications
with minors that
have been disclosed so far—including his attempts to
rendezvous with one and apparent meetings and scheduled
drinking sessions with others—and dismiss them as merely
"naughty e-mails." Yet, that`s how White House
press secretary Tony Snow

described some of them
this week.

Though he admitted to being too

and later "clarified" those words
with tougher remarks, the damage has been done. It makes
Republicans who downplay the messages—and Democrats and
journalists who sat on them—look recklessly flippant
about sexual predation. Parents of all political
persuasions should be outraged by both.

It is also impossible to ignore the appearance of
calculated grooming by Foley of potential young targets.
In a

June 6, 2002, farewell speech to pages,
effused about his teen pals—even bragging about taking
one male page out on a dinner date at Morton`s
steakhouse after the boy made a winning bid to have a
meal with him.

Given my own experience in Washington as a young
college intern, when I was

approached by a congressman
to live alone with him
for a winter term, I am sure there are many, many more
such stories to be told.

Some Beltway types think it`s absolutely absurd to
expect the adults in Washington to have policed Foley
more aggressively based on knowledge of his more

Come on. This was a 52-year-old man instant-messaging
teenagers. Hello? Would you be comfortable with your
next-door neighbor doing that?

And this is not the first time the Page Program`s
participants have been exploited by politicians lurking
in the halls of power.

In 1983, Republican Dan Crane and Democrat Gerry
Studds soiled the legacy of the House Page Program after
both admitting to sexual relations with 17-year-old
pages. Crane abused his position of power with a female
page. Studds with a male page.

Crane apologized and was voted out of office. Studds

, calling his "relationship" with his

teen prey
"consensual." He was re-elected.

Then-Congressman Newt Gingrich called for both
predators to be expelled. But the enablers and
apologists for Crane and Studds

settled for censure.

The consequences of letting their sordid behavior
slide without the most severe punishment created fertile
grounds for the Capitol Hill predation scandal we are
witnessing today. I do not blame the media or the prey
for the sins of the predators.

I blame the predators—and all of those, on both sides
of the aisle, who looked the other way.

Michelle Malkin [email
her] is author of

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores

for Peter Brimelow`s review. Click

for Michelle Malkin`s website.
Michelle Malkin`s latest book is "
Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.