2:30 p.m. ET: As Republican governors and their chroniclers gather in Miami, let's journey back a bit to a more sordid episode in South Florida's political history.
Yes, we're talking about the Mark Foley "page scandal". Why? Well, because former Florida GOP lawmaker has decided to "break his silence" by giving an interview to the Associated Press. Normally, a disgraced fellow like Foley only emerges from his cave like this if he wants to rehabilitate his image -- "I'm trying to find my way back," he tells AP. There are two ways to do that: 1) Admit what you did; 2) Apologize.
Really, Foley did neither in this interview. It's entirely possible he hasn't learned a single thing in the two-plus years that he's been out of public office and the public eye. First, Foley says he never had any "sexual contact" with those teenaged House pages. He just exchanged messages with them. Do you believe that? What about his alleged drunken visit to the page dormitory? Was he planning to "exchange messages" in person? But okay, let's accept his word on that. He even says he was "extraordinarily stupid." So far, so good.
But then he argues that his behavior wasn't THAT bad because these teens were 17, "just months from being men," as AP puts it. And he says they never protested or told him to stop. And, he says, his behavior was not hypocritical, even in light of his legislative work combating sexual predators, because, "You know, you hear the term 'pedophile.' That is prepubescent." Foley's friends, apparently, had all made it past puberty. That's reassuring.
Foley says he's speaking out now because "I believed I owed my constituents an apology." Then he says of his downfall: "It's not what I envisioned ... working this hard all my life to end up in an ash heap because of a momentary lapse of judgment." Momentary? Which "moment" is he referring to? As AP points out, "Foley carried on the computer conversations for months," and we don't actually know when the lawmaker really first started taking an unhealthy interest in House pages.
Foley was also supposed to do a Today show interview for this morning, but reportedly backed out because it wasn't going to be conducted by Matt Lauer. Poor guy.
8 a.m. ET: Much of the political press heads south today to Miami and its 82-degree forecast -- being a reporter can be tough sometimes -- for the Republican Governors Association meetings and, more importantly, an assemblage of early contenders for 2012.
Included on the agenda: Sarah Palin (if she's done giving interviews), plus Pawlenty, Jindal, Barbour and, most likely, some governor you've barely heard of who plans to "pull a Huckabee" and spring onto the national scene in four years time. Also brewing for the minority, an escalating battle to run the Republican Natiional Committee. Over the past 48 hours we've heard the names Gingrich (really?), Steele and Sununu as well as Fred Thompson (really??) and the expected cast of state party leaders.
The Obama transition team, meanwhile, unveiled new rules yesterday on hiring lobbyists that are different than any previous administration's. But is this a change you can believe in?
Forgive the mocking of campaign rhetoric, but get used to it, because John Podesta's explanation yesterday of how 44 will and won't go about putting lobbyists on the team was an instructive first example of how Obama will reconcile his promises with reality, and how the press will cover it. Just looking at the headlines, maybe the new policy "Restricts Lobbyists’ Role," and "Keep sIts Distance From Lobbyists." Or perhaps "Obama Softens Ban on Hiring Lobbyists," and is thus "Looking More Like a Realist."
Those lobbyist restrictions may also apply, in some form or another, to the Inauguration and associated festivities. But Obama et al haven't yet said how those rules will work, and it would be interesting to see whether there are enough non-lobbyist rich people out there who would be willing to pay thousands of dollars per ticket to sit at an Inaugural Ball, eat a bad dinner and wait for the Obamas to stop by for 5 minutes. That routine, at least, is unlikely to change.
Also unlikely to change, at least this week, is the Cabinet, as Obama's team doesn't plan to announce anyone until next week at the earliest, with most major names more likely to come in December. Bill Richardson is getting a boost for Secretary of State courtesy of Latino advocacy groups, who pointedly note that their voters were key to Obama's victory. On the other hand, maybe "Obama faces less pressure for [a] diverse Cabinet." Just as long as they're not lobbyists ...
November 12, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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