Move over, Ben Stein. The contest for worst scandal spin is far from over. Alicublog points us to the perfect storm of unadulterated stupidity: David Brooks, Mark Foley, and—oh yes—The Vagina Monologues. Brooks breaks it down ($):
This is a tale of two predators. The first is a congressman who befriended teenage pages. He sent them cajoling instant messages asking them to describe their sexual habits, so he could get his jollies.
The second is a secretary, who invited a 13-year-old girl from her neighborhood into her car and kissed her. Then she invited the girl up to her apartment, gave her some vodka, took off her underwear and gave her a satin teddy to wear…
The first predator, of course, is Mark Foley, the Florida congressman. The second predator is a character in Eve Ensler's play, "The Vagina Monologues."
Foley is now universally reviled. But the Ensler play, which depicts the secretary's affair with the 13-year-old as a glorious awakening, is revered.
Brooks argues that "by the rules of expressive individualism" Foley is an Enslerian hero, to be revered by women's studies majors and worshipped at consciousness-raising drum circles. They're probably already burning bras somewhere before a Mark Foley-shaped piece of cardboard. But under the guidance of a superior, older moral code, social roles–not choice–would rule ascendant.
So, expressing liberal sexual mores entails exonerating those in positions of power from all personal responsibility. I see basically no evidence for this, and Brooks offers none beyond his interpretation of a moronic piece of theatre. Perhaps it is possible to understand that Congressmen should not query pages on their masturbation habits, while doubting that every new release of Girls Gone Wild portends the fiery end of civilized society. Which, make no mistake, we are barreling inexorably toward. Brooks adds, shedding a tear for the children lost to renegade VM performances, "In a country filled with parents looking for a way to raise their children in a morally disordered environment, Foley's act is just one more symptom of a contagious disease."
But back to the Vagina Monologues, the point at which, as has been noted here and here, all conservative punditry begins and ends. From what I remember of watching the play—other than wanting desperately for it to be over—there was no reason to conclude that Eve Ensler supports the seduction of 13-year-olds. You might even conclude that it's possible to stage an act without endorsing it. But perhaps such reasoning is just another symptom of the afflicted.