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Foley, Gay Republicans, And The List

(Getty Images/Richard Patterson)
On Tuesday night's "Evening News," Gloria Borger said this:

"One senior House Republican tells CBS that there's a lot of anger at what he describes as 'a network of gay staffers and gay members who protect each other and did the speaker a disservice.'"

The New Republic's Michael Crowley picks up on Borger's comment. He argues that "it's becoming clear that some people on Capitol Hill are promoting a storyline that involves gay Republican staffers--apparently led by [Tom Reynolds's chief of staff Kirk] Fordham--covering up for Mark Foley." Crowley suggests "maybe this is how Dennis Hastert and his compatriots are explaining themselves to the base."

He also notes David Corn's report on "The List" – a document being passed around political circles of high-level Republican congressional aides who are gay.

Corn, a liberal, says he will not publish The List, even though he has a copy. Here's his conclusion:

Let's be clear about one thing: the Mark Foley scandal is not about homosexuality. Some family value conservatives are suggesting it is. But anytime a gay Republican is outed by events, a dicey issue is raised: what about those GOPers who are gay and who serve a party that is anti-gay? Are they hypocrites, opportunists, or just confused individuals? Is it possible to support a party because you adhere to most of its tenets--even if that party refuses to recognize you as a full citizen? The men on The List might want to think hard about these questions--as they probably already have--for if I have a copy of The List, there's a good chance it will be appearing soon on a website near everyone.
In the coming days, we may see the Foley story morph into a referendum on gay Republicans – particularly if the G.O.P. continues to push the storyline that Foley was protected by "a network of gay staffers and gay members." News organizations, one can safely assume, would not be happy about such a development. The questions surrounding putting gay Republicans in the spotlight – and how the press handles such questions – would be incredibly divisive: Conservative site Newsbusters is already lauding Borger for breaking the "PC Barrier" by taking about the alleged network; others, no doubt, will criticize news outlets for talking about staffers' personal lives. And what of The List? If it hits the Web, as Corn suggests, should news outlets publish it? Should they do follow up reporting based on its contents?

It could be a no-win situation for many of the parties involved – the media, conservative politicians with gay staffers, and, of course, those themselves on The List. But the election is not far away, and some lawmakers may see the "network of gay staffers and gay members" narrative as their best chance to limit fallout from the Foley story. Stay tuned – this one could get even uglier.