Monday, March 27, 2006

Foley's Folly: What Price Has He Paid for His Lies?

by Kyle Michaelis
You know, I have long appreciated what Nebraska State Paper tries to do offering a zero-cost, mostly journalistic on-line alternative to Nebraska's published press. That a real community engaging in interesting and dynamic discussion of the issues has developed on the site over the years is a testament to the purpose it has served and the success it has achieved.

Still, for all the respect I have for the site and its managing editor/main contributor, Ed Howard, there's something vaguely disturbing about the supposedly straight-talking style of its editorial content that nevertheless doesn't quite say what needs to be said and doesn't quite ask what needs to be asked.

Now, maybe this is just a matter of my own biases showing through - indeed, perhaps I have become so self-indulgent on this website that any opinion not my own is going to appear invalid - but it honestly seems like purposefully holds back and purposefully lets things slide when the truth might offend it's more conservative readership.

Case in point, the Mike Foley/Planned Parenthood affair. In his Friday column, Howard started right off the bat with a pandering and conclusory assessment of the situation, writing:
Senator Mike Foley of Lincoln paid the price for lying to his colleagues.

Great opening line, Ed, it's a real clincher. Just one problem - there's nothing in the whole rest of the article to support it.

Howard goes on to mention that Foley's stated motives in seeking approval of his amendment to the budget have been proven false - his deceit acknowledged without shame by Foley and largely denounced by his fellow Senators. Howard also writes that, because of the reversal of several Senators, Foley's anti-Planned Parenthood amendment has now been stricken from the budget.

Well, that's all well and good, Ed, but WHERE in this situation has Foley yet paid any real price for his lies? The man was one of the state's most high-profile anti-abortion zealots before this action; he remains so now. He was on course to become this state's next State Auditor before this action; he remains so now - THERE'S NO ONE ELSE ON THE DAMN BALLOT!

Sure, the guy might have lost a little bit of esteem in the eyes of voters and senators, but Foley hasn't even felt compelled to apologize for his lying on the floor of the state legislature. So, where, again, has he paid a price?

The funding of women's health programs that he so improperly politicized and manipulated has simply gone back to the status quo. As far as the books are concerned, Foley's folly never even existed. So, again, where has he paid a price?

The way I see it, there are three ways Foley could have paid an actual, legitimate price for his disdainful conduct:

1)The State Legislature could have maintained the increase in funding of women's health programs while striking Foley's language targeting Planned Parenthood and opening such funds to other providers.

This would have been a completely called-for, direct repudiation of Foley's underhanded tactics rather than a restoration of the status quo - and, my God, women would have benefitted for a change. But, no, why would anyone want to see a thing like that?

2)The State Legislature could pass a resolution censuring Foley for his sinful handling of this matter.

HA! Likely story. Even while a handful of state senators have come out and denounced Foley's tactics, you have Sen. Mike Friend of Omaha all-but coming to his defense in the Omaha World-Herald:
Regarding the Foley matter, Sen. Mike Friend of Omaha said lawmakers should be careful when they question others' integrity....

He said it is up to constituents to decide a lawmaker's credibility and integrity.
Oh, good grief! What kind of world do we live in where a man lies, and you can't even call him a miserable, shameless liar...which is exactly what Foley has proven himself as by his refusal to apologize?

3)A real opposition candidate could rise for the State Auditor's position, inspired by the horror at what a man of Foley's absolutely unscrupulous manner might do with such high office.

Unlikely as it may be, this seems to be the people of Nebraska's only potential recourse, assuming they would not like a liar as their state auditor, particularly one who has already shown such disrespect for the budgeting process over which the Auditor exercises no small degree of oversight.

This man has treated the people's money, not to mention women's health care, like nothing more than a political football to be handed-off to his friends on the far-right fringe. It's utterly contemptible and dangerous. I can only hope this realization might be enough to force someone (a woman, perhaps) of competence, courage, and expertise to stand up for the future of this state and say enough is for me because, at the very least, I'm not a proven liar running for a job where integrity and honesty are the only true expectations.

Still, to my knowledge, no such candidate has stepped forward. The status quo stands. Foley remains in office, unapologetically biding his time until he becomes state auditor by default. At worst, he'll find himself with one or two fewer Christmas cards from former colleagues to put on the desk in his new office this winter. It's an altogether sickening situation - one that perfectly demonstrates the destructive absurdity of the near-total one-party Republican domination in this state.

But, that price is being paid by the people of Nebraska, not State Sen. Mike Foley. So, Mr. Howard, rather than offering vague and ultimately false reassurances that the bad guy is paying for his crimes, how about joining me in the call to see that he actually does?

Let's not put the cart before the horse, and let's certainly not confuse the cart for the horse, leaving the horse back at the stable.

Note: A Friday World-Herald editorial holds Foley up as a poor example for the 20 new state senators who will join the legislature next year. Again, though, they fail to mention that - if Foley has his way, if things play out as set now - there will be 21 new state senators counting Foley's appointed replacement. Foley has applied for advancement - and is on course to receive it - from a job in which he has earned the scorn of the state, yet no one will talk about it.

WHY? WHY? WHY? A thousands times, WHY?


Anonymous Ed Howard said...

Kyle -

You are correct.

The Foley story should have said that he "paid a negligible price" for lying, and then proclaiming that he was proud of it.

Ed Howard


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