Disgraced congressman Mark Foley (above left) has pulled out an excuse as old as fermentation. On Friday, after resigning over what White House spokesman Tony Snow calls "naughty e-mails," Foley announced that he was going into rehab for treatment of "alcoholism and related behavioral problems." Yesterday, The New York Times reports, his lawyer "said that Mr. Foley had sent the inappropriate e-mail messages while under the influence of alcohol and that he had kept his drinking problem secret." Top secret: "A former aide and other associates said in interviews that they did not believe Mr. Foley had a drinking problem."
You really can't blame Foley for trying, though. Wait a minute—yes, you can. The drink-made-me-do-it excuse is transparently an attempt to get credit for accepting responsibility without actually accepting it. Is anyone more sympathetic to, say, Bob Ney or Mel Gibson because they're drunks in addition to being, respectively, crooked and anti-Semitic? How many Americans still believe alcohol has the transformative powers Foley, Gibson, and Ney ascribe to it? On balance, I suspect (hope?), the rehab shtick has to hurt more than it helps.