It's amazing what does - and does not - move the body politic these days. To paraphrase Stalin, exploiting one person is a scandal, exploiting 300 million is a statistic.
Rep. Mark Foley is accused of sending provocative e-mails and instant messages to teenage Congressional pages. He appears to have done this for the satisfaction, however vicarious, of his own very personal sexual urges. This, and the refusal of his political superiors to put a stop to it or force his resignation earlier, is becoming a huge issue in this election. It may be the key factor in a number of races and even shift control of Congress.
This was one person influencing the lives of a handful of near-adults, and without any grave effect. Any male page attracted to Foley was - face it - already gay or trending gay. Affairs conducted at the distance of IM have no potential to transmit STD's or cause any other significant harm. As an experience which removes unwarranted trust in authority, it could even be regarded as an important step in growing up (however unwelcome the form).
But entire political parties which carry on affairs with the oil and coal interests attract little attention. The stories go unremarked even when the companies whose interests they advance and whose campaign contributions they take are the objects of widespread public anger. It's as if the body politic is too dim to see even a small part of the big picture.
Now, why is that? Why is there only a Proposition 87 in California, and not a huge movement to oust the legislators - and executive - who move to keep the US addicted to the products of Exxon-Mobil (and Saudi Arabia)?
People are outraged that it cost them nearly $100 to fill a big SUV last summer.
If that SUV ran on batteries, it might have cost $25 to charge it instead. And that SUV would have been a cleaner, quieter, safer, superior vehicle in almost every way.
Why isn't there outrage over that? Why isn't that the scandal on every editorial page and running as a crawl on CNN and Fox? I'd tell you, except that I honestly don't have a clue.
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