Movie buffs know that a Foley artist is the person who adds sound effects in post-production. Often, this is done to improve on what would otherwise be captured in the live ambient sound, and it is another part of the fantasy environment you see on screen. As such, the Foley effect achieves a sort of hyper-realism by actually sounding better than the real thing.
A bat striking a side of beef sounds better than an actual blow delivered by a martial artist, coconut shells pounded together sound better than real horse hooves, and simulated gunshots and ricochets sound better than the real thing. The name comes from cinema pioneer Jack Foley.
These days, though, another Foley is in the news and that is Mark Foley. This disgraced multi-term Republican representative from Florida was caught making lewd propositions to congressional pages. In an uncharacteristic display of good sense and even honor, Foley quickly resigned his seat. Allegations are flying that the Republican leadership had known for a good long time of Foley’s misdemeanors, but chose to ignore them.
When the scandal first broke, I was briefly encouraged when certain conservative voices, including Richard A. Viguerie, called for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign his position. “The fact that they just walked away from this, it sounds like they were trying to protect one of their own members rather than these young boys,” Viguerie noted. This movement was short-lived, however, when President Bush and many others issued statements of support for Hastert.
No doubt, the Foley affair pales in comparison to the outrageous behavior of the late Gerry Studds (D-MA). who actually did have a sexual relationship with a page, and essentially flipped the bird to Congress, as it censured him. Studds’ “courage,” as it was called by some, was enough to get him reelected several times in the wake of the scandal. For what it’s worth, Studds never did apologize, and commented that his relationship with the underage boy was consensual. According to those who knew him, he was never ashamed of the activity.
But, I’m not playing this little tit for tat game anymore, although it seems to be de rigueur for nearly everyone on the Right. Hastert, who looks to me like the very model of a career political hack was in charge, and he should go down. As it appears now, though, this won’t happen until after the elections, whereby Team R will lose control of the House, or just barely squeak through, and he will be forced out by his own.
Commentators speak of the tide turning against the Republicans, but my take is that the public is sick to death, instead, of ALL the politicians. There is more than enough hypocrisy and incompetence on both sides, but even worse, they don’t stand for anything other than getting reelected. That is, the only solution presented to the electorate is either Team D or Team R.
Vicious political battles go back to the founding of our country, and were probably more malicious than now. The difference is that in the case of Alexander Hamilton versus Aaron Burr, or the Federalists versus the Jeffersonians, the public knew where these guys stood. In fact, there was far more infighting within parties, because ideas and principles truly mattered.
We are told by the leaders of the Teams that a benefit of this tribalistic loyalty is the passage of “important” bills on strict party line votes, and the confirmation of Federal judges.
Of course, there is a significant problem with this line of reasoning. Since none of the members or their teams stand for anything, there will eventually be no important bills, and the predictable divide will not matter. As to the judges, considering that most of the current crop is terrible, and the situation whereby a conservative such as Earl Warren is put in, only to “grow” in his lifelong office to become liberal is far from rare, my enthusiasm is definitely under control.
The only solution is for a third party to emerge on the Right. This is by no means hopeless, as the Republican party was formed by defectors from the Democratic, Whig, and Free-Soil parties, largely over the slavery issue. Less than ten years later, the new party won the presidency.
To be sure, today’s big issues are every bit as important as slavery, and could easily inspire a present day defection, but do we have politicians who care about them? Will Mark Foley produce a special effect on the body politic?
We can only wait and see.