There is an irony in today’s Foley scandal (I like the name La Cage Aux Foley myself), which we can now assume will take down the House Republican majority that has existed since 1994.
This scandal began with a man named Foley, who was first elected that year. His election was made possible, in part, by a scandal that ended with the destruction of another Foley.
The other Foley was, at that time, the Speaker of the House. Democrats had, until Tom Foley, held that chair for 40 years straight.
The scandal which took down Tom Foley was the House Post Office Scandal. By today’s standards the facts were tame, even quaint. Members are allowed to freely mail constituents, a privilege known as the "frank," and to account for such franking, they have accounts with the House Post Office. Apparently some members were converting their Post Office account balances directly into cash. House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski was directly implicated.
Rostenkowski, like current House Speaker Dennis Hastert, was from Illinois.
The other Foley was not directly implicated, but he was destroyed nonetheless. He was destroyed because it was assumed he should have known and done something about it. (Sound familiar?) Not only did he lose his office as Speaker, he lost his race for re-election to an unknown named George Nethercutt, despite outspending him 10-1. President Clinton later named Foley as ambassador to Japan, where he served until 2001.
Thus, the irony. The Republican rule on Capitol Hill has gone from
Foley to Foley, as Mark Twain’s life went from the 1835 appearance of
Halley’s Comet to its 1910 return. And as with the comet, a Foley
remained in the legislative solar system throughout, rising to become a
majority whip, until he became visible to all, and took all down with
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly
native American criminal class except Congress.