The congressional page scandal's proving the straw that breaks the elephant's back, and Congressman Jim Kolbe's got explaining to do

Brace yourself for the crescendo in the vulgar procession of congressional sex-scandal witnesses. Arizona's elusive Representative Jim Kolbe must eventually appear before the committee investigating the moral corruption, click his red pumps together and testify about the grooming of high school students by the very men elected to lead the nation.

What's the matter with Kansas, Toto? That's easy: The party that co-opted family values as a Republican virtue overlooked and enabled the sleazy antics of skells like Congressmen Mark Foley and Kolbe.

For the moment, the investigation by the House ethics committee plods along as if it were a nickel-and-dime corruption exposé. For the time being, skeptics draw a distinction between the virtual sex of instant messaging and hard-core molestation.

The House ethics committee's now targeted Jim Kolbe's behavior with congressional pages.
AP/Wide World Photos
The House ethics committee's now targeted Jim Kolbe's behavior with congressional pages.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (left), shown with Kolbe (third from left) at an unrelated press conference, has been accused of covering up for Foley.
AP/Wide World Photos
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (left), shown with Kolbe (third from left) at an unrelated press conference, has been accused of covering up for Foley.

But the cover-up of Foley's disgraceful courting of teenage boys will turn out to be every bit as degenerate as anything we've reported about the Catholic Church. Instead of bishops protecting priests, we will eventually see the details of how Republican leadership in the United States House of Representatives sheltered their own perverts instead of protecting the high school students whom the sick ones found so tempting.

The key to when Foley's sordid behavior began, and therefore when the cover-up began, is Arizona's Kolbe.

And while the ethics committee is nailing down the timeline with Kolbe, it needs to ask him about his own behavior. These questions linger because the congressman is on vacation and generally unavailable.


It is time to drag Kolbe's bitch ass home, put him under oath and ask: Whom did you touch and when did you touch him?

After the abject failure of President George W. Bush and his Republican host, it is almost anticlimactic that child molestation is proving to be the straw that breaks the elephant's back. Voters could have picked: weapons of mass destruction, civil war in Iraq, the secret, warrant-less wiretapping of American citizens, the Patriot Act, the torture of prisoners, Osama bin Laden running loose, a record deficit, corrupt congressmen Duke Cunningham, Robert Ney, and Tom DeLay, and corrupting lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

It is ironic that the polls show voters are responding overwhelmingly to the disgraced Mark Foley's grooming of a high school page who served in Congress. After all, the Republicans pounded family values so hard in the past several elections you would assume that all Democrats voted from the Sodom and Gomorrah zip code.

But irony is the refuge of college sophomores.

The bottom line is that this very same Republican Party and its Christian allies mounted partisan efforts to put anti-gay rights initiatives on 11 state ballots during the last presidential election. Gay Republicans might spin, horrified, in their closet, yet they line up to support such efforts. Foley himself voted for the infamous Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 while posing as a heterosexual.

The hypocritical posturing by gay Republicans is so commonplace that it is no extraordinary moment in Washington, D.C., for the most rabid, homophobic senators and representatives to have key staff positions filled by gay and lesbian assistants.

Kolbe finally came out of the closet in 1996 because a national gay magazine, The Advocate, decided to focus its outrage on the Arizona congressman's two-faced position on DOMA.

In the upcoming November election, Arizona voters must consider Proposition 107 — which would not only enact a state constitutional ban on gay marriage, something that is already illegal in the state, but would also eliminate health and financial benefits that normally accrue to a civil union or couples living together.

Republican leadership chooses to legislate family values for the rest of us by attacking consenting, same-sex adults. This is a wedge issue that is used to motivate the Republican base.

At the same time, the Republican leadership is cynically protecting not homosexuals, but elected perverts within their ranks.

There is one standard for Republican leadership and another for the rest of us.

Kolbe's role in the page scandal gives the lie to the Republican family-values hustle: The disgraced Foley wasn't an aberration, he was part of a sick pattern. And so was Kolbe.

Almost as soon as the ethics committee began investigating the history of Foley's relationship with the teenage pages, Kolbe surfaced in reports attempting to determine when the House leadership became aware of the problem.

The initial focus was the Louisiana teenager whose parents complained to their congressman in 2005.

Yet Kolbe admitted that an Arizona page had complained to him about correspondence from Foley that made the teenager uncomfortable as far back as 2000-2001.

Kolbe claimed he passed on the complaint to the Republican Clerk of the House.

This is important. Kolbe moved the timeline on the Foley scandal back several years from the Louisiana incident. When the Louisiana matter surfaced last year, it was hardly the first complaint about Foley that Republican leadership had in their files.

But Kolbe's behavior is also very odd because it is so passive.

Did he follow up with Foley directly? No.

Did he follow up with the Clerk of the House? No.

Did he follow up with House leadership? No.

Did he follow up with the Arizona page whom Kolbe himself had appointed? No.

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