October 3, 2006

Interns and Pages

I was going to write a droll little piece, mostly about the gapping hole in our political and cultural landscape, devoid as it is of the wonders of interns and pages (see, we’re not the 51st State of the USA after all, truly we’re not), but that idea was superseded by this dumb-arsed quote:

“This is a political problem, and we need to step up and do something dramatic,” Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois said afterward, adding that he had proposed abolishing the Congressional page program."

Let me repeat that: Huh?

One twat sleeze bag behaving exactly like one twat sleeze bag is a political problem now?

A well-established, respected and valuable work experience program should be abolished because of the behavior of one individual now?

And I thought we suffered from a few too many stoopid politicians and a few too many irrational social reactions.

Update: The Borowitz Report sheds new light on Foley’s excuses:

Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla) held a press conference in Washington, D.C. today to offer yet another excuse for his inappropriate contact with congressional pages, telling reporters that his behavior was caused by an acute case of postpartum depression.

Mr. Foley's latest explanation took many in Washington by surprise, since in recent days he had blamed childhood abuse and alcoholism for his current woes.

But in his press conference this morning, the former Florida congressmen said that while childhood abuse and alcoholism played a part in his behavior, postpartum depression played "an even bigger part."

"Like millions of Americans, I suffered from postpartum depression," said the embattled congressman, choking back tears. "Instead of seeking professional help, I self-medicated by sending instant messages to hot congressional pages."

While many in official Washington and across the country questioned Mr. Foley's latest explanation for his behavior, perhaps no one registered stronger doubts about the postpartum theory than the actor Tom Cruise.

Just hours after Mr. Foley's press conference, Mr. Cruise held a press conference of his own to call the former lawmaker's explanation "bogus."

"I, too, suffered postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter, Suri," Mr. Cruise said. "But I got over it through a straight regimen of exercise and vitamins."

Responding to Mr. Cruise's criticism, Mr. Foley said that postpartum depression had not caused his behavior after all, but added, "What if I told you I was hypoglycemic?"


  1. I don't know Caz, but taking 16 - 17 years olds far from home, putting them in a dorm in Washington and giving them a nice uniform just to act as "gofers" around Congress struck me as just not likely to be worth the potential trouble. Taking teenagers away from home at that age is inherently problematic, unless you are going to exercise a military like control over what they do every minute of the day. (In Australia, I think even the military doesn't bother doing much any more either.)

    Maybe up to 40 years ago, when teenagers did become independent much younger than they do today, it made more sense, but now it just seems to be a scheme for smart 16 year olds with an over developed interest in politics to have a fun time playing adults far from home.

    That said, to abolish now because of this incident is too much like admitting that because the adults in congress can't behave, the teenagers have to suffer. I think maybe abolish it next year instead..

  2. Well, that's a different point of view Steve, but how is the "page" program any worse than sending kids off to boarding school (at even younger ages, for years on end) or off to "summer camp" every single year (an American tradition, if you believe the films and TV shows)?

    Intrigued that you think independence is a slower / longer process these days. The "usual" arguement is that kids are growing up way too fast. The flip side being that they stay at home for-bloody-ever instead of leaving home.

  3. Anonymous11:16 PM

    Well Caz, boarding school and camp are kid specific environments, and designed that way from scratch. Congress isn't, being a basically adult environment.

    Obviously, being a page could be an interesting and fun time for the kids, and presumably most get through without feeling hit upon by some adult. But I get the feeling that the fierce competition to get into it (see the Yahoo article Tim Dunlop linked to) probably means that it attracts mainly young overachievers who would be better off learning about some other part of the world before getting so interested in politics. (It all has a touch of the ernest Young Labor and Young Libs about it, don't you think?)

    As for the independence of teenagers, I meant employment independence. Go back 40 years and far more teenagers left school at Grade 10 and found an apprenticeship or job as a junior somewhere, even though they stayed at home initially. Thus there were many more 16 to 17 year olds in the workplace on a full time basis than today, and in that sense seeing kids that age at Congress would not have looked so out of place.

    By the way, I thought a lot of Jon Stewart's Daily Show about this was pretty funny. See youtube for it www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLcQKoWOIhc


  4. Yep, have to accept your point on that; although, wouldn't there be more abuse at boarding schools, camps, and what not, those very child specific environments are most often the source of much bullying and abuse (so is normal everyday school). But, that's by the by, your point still valid.

    I have only read a little on this, but I did find it almost sad that former pages set up sites and keep in touch with each other, over the years and the decades, to relive their 'glory days' as pages, ie, sad that the program may have been the peak of their lives. This in itself, and the highly competitive nature of the program, points to a fairly perverse elitism, which may not be the best foundations for a young person's future. Gave me an uneasy feeling. Then again, the US is madly keen on all that alumni thing, no matter the source or origins of the initial connection; it's much less of a thing down here, maybe that's why I thought it was a bit creepy.

    Maybe I was a grumpy 16-17 yr old and can't imagine wanting to walk back down memory lane on those years. :-)

  5. I see both points of view. But as a parent, I wouldn't send my children to the page program, boarding school, summer camp, etc. There are just too many predators in the world.

  6. I see that Foley's lawyer issued the congressman's first public acknowledgment that he is gay, thus neatly giving all gay men a bad name. Always a bit of a puzzle, given that heterosexual people, who are up to no good, upon 'announcing' that they are heterosexual (as if) don't automatically taint every other heterosexual person in the world.

    To add further insult, his lawyer has said that Foley had been molested by a clergyman and had "kept the shame to himself" until now. This, is supposed to garner sympathy? I don't know. I've never understood the logic of abusees growing up to be abusers and thinking that gets them off the hook somehow. More especially since the overwhelming majority of people who have ever been abused in some manner do NOT grow up to perpetuate that abuse on others. It's not a given, and negates the "oh poor me, but I have a good excuse" factor, to my mind at least.

  7. Anonymous10:54 AM


    HEre is a site that often has the real scoop on these DC scandals.



  8. Thanks Snaps, I'll have a look when I get a few minutes.