While there is certainly room for a lot of Schadenfreude in the massive political upheaval over former Rep. Mark Foley and those who heard about his behaviour but didn't bother to investigate thoroughly, and its probably ramifications in the upcoming election, it pains me to see that this is what it takes for the scales to fall from the eyes of the people. All the news and revelations of this past week alone aside from the page affairs — those in Bob Woodward's new book, how much contact there was between convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House, another warning before 9/11 ignored, let alone Congress "abridging" the Constitution without going through the proper Article V process for amendment, and authorizing not-quite-torture — is as naught compared to a single (so far, and I don't mean his marital status) Congressman taking advantage of probably a few dozen Congressional pages, and some of his party's leadership not looking into the matter adequately, if not actively covering up.
Granted that the behaviour of the Congressman was sick, wrong, evil, and deserving of bringing down the careers of himself and many of those involved, and hopefully some well-earned jail time, it pales in comparison to the violence that has been done to our nation's institutions, foundations, and Constitution. And if one might think, "but those are just abstractions, these are real people, children even, who've been hurt," I would point out that these "mere abstractions" could have very real, concrete consequences for many of our nation's citizens and the people of the world, and more abstract consequences for all of us. The consequences were pretty concrete for the 74 US servicemen killed and the 577 gravely wounded in the most recent months I can easily find (September and August, respectively), let alone the approximately 1,579 Iraqis killed in September. The ignoring of the CIA warnings might have seemed rather real for about 2.973 people who used to dwell in New York and Washington, DC, if they were still with us.
More abstractly, one of our Constitutional rights, one so important that it went into the main body of the Constitution rather than being passed later in one of the amendments of the Bill of Rights, has been pretty much rendered null and void, so that our President can imprison whom he wants to, when he wants to, without having to explain to himself why. Oh, and he can go ahead and torture them now, as long as he wouldn't judge it to be torture. Abstract for now, for most of us, and apparently for all US citizens except Jose Padilla, but I wonder how long it might be until it becomes all too real and concrete for some of the rest of us.
But all of that can go on the back burner for now, because we've got a sex scandal!! And that's what the media really wants to talk about. Apparently, people just can't bother to get worked up about all that death of people and liberty. But give them some titillating emails and IMs, and they're finally ready to rise up and throw the bums out!
It's a disgrace to thinking people across this country, those who actually pay attention to what's going on, and care about this country and the path it's taking. And yet, if it's what it takes to get some responsible people actually capable of governing, rather than just playing political games with other people's lives, I guess I'll take it, for now.
Added: I think I just came up with the right metaphor for it. It's like getting Al Capone on tax evasion charges. Yeah, you got him, but....
Update: The September count for serious injuries of American soldiers is out now. Up to 776, a 34% increase over August.