Monday, September 14, 2009

Inside Whose Mind?

You remember Mark Foley. How could you forget him? It was just three years ago that the Republican Congressman from Florida resigned over the salacious instant messages he'd sent male teenagers who were former Congressional pages. The dude was disturbed.

Now he's been given a radio show. If it flies, this will be a resurrection the likes of which hasn't been seen since Jesus. Foley, in addition to being a wreck himself, managed to offend or embarrass everyone from gays to Republicans to gay Republicans.

His new political talk radio show is called "Inside the Mind of Mark Foley."

I swear on a stack of pancakes I thought that was a joke.

Who would want to get into his mind? Not long ago it was the site of competing blustery storms smashing against each other. He didn't need a therapist, he needed The Weather Channel.

For starters, Foley was a gay man in a lifelong closet. Even as his homosexuality was a badly kept secret, the Congressman stayed resolutely mum about it. While campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat in 2003, Foley was increasingly outed in the media. He responded by calling a press conference where he said his orientation wasn't important; he also denounced the rumors as "revolting and unforgivable."

Revolting to be called gay? I guess if you've spent your life guarding the truth like Fort Knox.

Foley grew up Catholic, was a Republican in a conservative state, and may've been just old enough to miss out on gay freedom. I can strain myself and cut him some slack there. But not for the obvious fact that he stayed closeted for political gain. And maybe he couldn't bear to give up the Palm Beach parties and fundraisers.

Now to the e-mails and IMs that got him in trouble and were another ugly weather system in his head. It unfolded that the Congressman had been a bad cyberspace boy for years.

In one exchange a teen told him he was wearing shorts, and Foley responded he'd "love to slip them off" and "grab the one-eyed snake." When Foley directed him to "take it out," the high school student left the computer because "my mom is yelling." Had she known what was happening, she would've downright bellowed.

In 2003, while the House was voting on a war appropriations bill, Foley stepped away and had Internet sex with an 18-year-old former page. I wonder how that affected his vote?

After the scandal broke, people debated whether the disgraced Congressman was a pedophile, an ephebophile (sexually attracted to older adolescents and teenagers), or a "-phile" to be named later. I remember an expert's contention that Foley wanted to get caught, another gust in his head. So was the fact that he chaired the House caucus on missing and exploited children, and fought for tough laws against those who use the Internet to exploit children sexually.

Is this really a mind anyone wants to get into? The winds blowing in there were strong enough to flatten Florida.

After he resigned, we immediately learned of two more forces billowing inside Foley. He bee lined it to a rehab center for alcoholism treatment, and his attorney announced that a priest had molested Foley when he was a teenager.

But hey, three years have passed. Maybe the ill winds are now just anemic puffs.

It was Foley who approached WSVU in North Palm Beach with the idea for the show. The former Congressman is working for free, and there's even talk of syndicating "Inside the Mind of Mark Foley."

I take it back. Some people should go into his mind: psychiatrists and documentary filmmakers. For the rest of us, the place should be off limits as a hurricane zone.