Double Standards on Sex Scandals: Foley vs. Studds

A missed opportunity to point out Democratic hypocrisy.

Tuesday's lead story by Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny keeps the pressure on the GOP: "Pressure Grows for Republicans Over Foley Scandal."

"Speaker J. Dennis Hastert faced intensifying questions on Monday about why Republicans had not reacted more assertively to Representative Mark Foley's messages to a teenage page, as members of his party, fearing a political debacle, demanded a strong response."

A later paragraph is pretty rich:

"At the White House, Tony Snow, President Bush's press secretary, initially characterized the scandal as 'naughty e-mails,' drawing a blistering response from Democrats who said his words suggested that Republicans did not understand the gravity of the situation."

That would have been an opportunejuncture for the Times to call out Democratic hypocrisy about "understanding the gravity" of such situations, by bringing up the 1983 case of Rep. Gerry Studds, the former Democrat congressman of Massachusetts, when he (along with Republican Rep. Daniel Crane) was censured by the House for sexual affairs with teenage pages (Studds with a male page). The Democratic Party did not pressure Studds to resign, and he served thirteen more years in liberal Massachusetts. By contrast, Crane lost in a Republican primary.

The Times, as you may have guessed, failed to take that opportunity.

"Mr. Hastert, who returned to the Capitol to deal with the escalating scandal, was pressed by reporters to explain why the first communication between Mr. Foley and a page, which was brought to the attention of Republican leaders last year, had not led to more assertive efforts to determine if it was an isolated case."

The Times conveniently recaps opportunistic Democratic ads.

"Across the country, in competitive and noncompetitive races, Democrats seized on an issue that they said was resonating with voters. In an effort coordinated in Washington by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party's candidates urged their Republican opponents to call for the resignation of Mr. Hastert and other leaders.

"In Indiana, Baron Hill, a Democratic candidate for a House seat, asked the incumbent, Representative Mike Sodrel, a first-term Republican, to reject any financial contributions from the national party. In North Carolina, where Representative Robin Hayes, a Republican, is engaged in a tough campaign fight, the state Democratic Party issued a statement asking, 'Who does Robin Hayes stand up for - Mark Foley and the Republican House leadership or under-age children?'"