Roger L. Simon

Foley's Libido: the Internet is Written in Indelible Ink

I read this morning that Mr. Mark Foley of Florida is headed for rehab to treat his “alcoholism.” (The debbil made me do it! ) Don’t they always? And usually they’re out in three to six weeks (hello, Mel Gibson) when three to six years is not even enough to get to the roots of their dysfunction.

But I’ll leave the psychoanalysis of Foley to others. I have other fish to fry here. What interests me in this whole predictable epsiode – the seduction of Capitol pages of both genders by members of both parties is as old as, well, the Capitol – is the ignorance our representatives have of modern communications. Don’t they realize by now the Internet is written in indelible ink? Nothing you type online in whatever form ever goes away. It’s much more permanent than anything written on paper. (Note to bloggers: forget that at your peril) I suspect many of our politicians don’t have a clue about this. They think (Foley probably thought) instant messages rocket across the screen and disappear into cyberspace.

We live in a highly technical era. It’s time to reevaluate our leaders for basic competence in understanding what is going on. This was always a problem. Very few have the intellectual horsepower of a Daniel Moynahan. And the situation is getting worse as the baseline rises. Ten seconds with Dennis Hastert shows you what a dilemma we are in. He certainly wasn’t up to speed on the perils of email. Would you like a man like that dealing with issues of nuclear power. Do you think he’d pass a basic physics test? People like that will forever be at the mercy of their staff, assuming they have staff that is competent, which is a helluva assumption. Anyway, it’s something to ponder as we go forward.

(Note to the Republican devout who are defending Foley because “the other side did it and got away with it.” So what? In the post-Monica era, that dog not only ” will not hunt.” It won’t get off the floor to eat dinner.)