There are real dangers in the world today. There are self-declared enemies of the United States in the Middle East, the Far East and even right here in the Western Hemisphere. We have nations that are engaged in the pursuit of nuclear weapons. We have others that have vowed to test their bombs and all but declared open war against the US. We have troops in combat in Iraq. We have torrents of illegal immigrants flooding into the country. We have terrorists who have sworn to attack the United States. We have murderers and monsters among us that kill little girls. We have an economy that is the envy of the world with record highs in the stock market for three straight days now. We have rising tax revenues despite tax cuts. We have falling unemployment and rising consumer confidence.
And we have sideshows that dominate all media coverage and political debate. And we have carnival barkers who make sure that those sideshows are well attended.
We have a Former Republican Congressman who deservedly resigned his office when emails and text messages came to light that prove that he acted improperly with underage Congressional Pages. There has not been one single charge yet that he did anything other than the emails and texts. No actual sexual contact has been alleged. But that is the dominant theme in the political debate leading up to a national election. The barkers make sure of it by drowning out any other topic of discussion.
We have scurrilous accusations made against sitting Senators which do not pass even the most basic rules of journalism. No fact checking, no verifiable multiple sourcing. No police records to back up the most lurid charges. Yet the stories saw print anyway. And the barkers and the hucksters were there to make sure of it.
We have opportunistic hypocrites who cannot address the real issues facing this country in a meaningful way. Which is why we have sideshows and carnival barkers.
UPDATE: Daniel Henninger at the Opinion Journal wonders if this is really happening.
It's hard to believe that the Foley/instant message/congressional-page/GOP meltdown story has run for a week. Other than the slaughter in Amish country, is anyone aware of anything else of note in the world that happened the past seven days? Dive deep enough beneath the Foley flotsam and you discover reports that North Korea may be preparing to conduct an underground nuclear test. China and South Korea are at this hour trying to forestall the Hermit Kingdom's nuke test and no doubt could use an expression of support and outrage from the American political establishment. Sorry, they're busy reading Congressman Foley's 1995 email traffic.
We see also where Europe's envoy to Iran, Javier Solana, threw in the towel after "endless hours" of talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who on Wednesday told a crowd screaming "Death to America" that sanctions wouldn't stop Iran from enriching uranium. Whatever. The big news in Washington yesterday morning was that the House Ethics Committee sat down "behind closed doors" to think about Mark Foley.
We know when we're beaten. Bowing to the gods of the news cycle, let us undertake the great questions of the moment. Where does post-modern American ethics place Mark Foley's homosexuality on a scale of 1 to 10–a 1 being just another gay guy and a 10 being a compulsive, predatory sex offender? What might fall in between seems to have confused Denny Hastert, two newspapers, one TV network and the FBI. In the event, Mr. Hastert, as the point man, is being driven from office for having failed, in hindsight, to recognize the obvious.
Please read it for a good analysis of how we got to this place. This sideshow with all the carnival barkers.