Chronicling the highs, lows, quips, quotes, comings and goings of Washington, D.C. spokesguys and spokesgals

Monday, October 02, 2006

Drinking and IM'ing Don't Mix

Is Mark Foley a Potomac Flacks reader? Back when Rep. Bob Ney pled guilty in September, we noted that alcohol had supplanted prescription drugs as the new acceptable alibi of choice for D.C. pols caught in a bind.

Now we hear that Foley has checked himself into rehab to undergo treatment for alcoholism. Apparently it was the booze that made him send all those dirty IM's to 16-year old boys. Riiiiiiight...

Alcoholism is a serious problem and all, but I can't help but point out that checking himself into rehab has two immediate damage control benefits for Foley: 1) allowing him to hide out and avoid being stalked by the media, and 2) laying the groundwork for his eventual legal defense on child exploitation charges.

Speaking of damage control, it sounds like the Hastert/Boehner/Reynolds/Shimkus press teams were busy over the weekend trying to plot their next defensive steps. Hastert's request to Gonzales for an investigation is a good step, but The Swamp points out that blaming the media (specifically the St. Petersburg Times) seems to be a new tactic as well:

The letters are interesting because they seem to reveal an emerging damage-control strategy that Hastert may use to defend House Republicans in their handling of the Foley matter. It boils down to saying House Republicans did more than the media did when faced with the same Foley emails.

The following paragraph contains the damage-control strategy.

According to an Editor's Note that appeared on the St. Petersburg Times' website yesterday, the Times was given a set of emails from Mr. Foley to Representative Alexander's former page in November of 2005. (See "A Note From the Editors" located at http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/, visited on September 30, 2006). The editors state that they viewed this exchange as "friendly chit chat" and decided not to publish it after hearing an explanation from Representative Foley. Acting on this same communication, the Chairman of the House Page Board and the then Clerk of the House confronted Mr. Foley, demanded he cease all contact with the former page as his parents had requested, and believed they had privately resolved the situation as the parents had requested.

So the usually snapping watchdogs of the Times essentially did nothing with the emails after apparently buying Foley's explanation while Rep. John Shimkus (R-Il.) who heads the House Page Board and the former House clerk "confronted" Foley demanding he cease all contact with the teenager.

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