I think a lot about the contingency of history, about the essentially random events that wind up turning our lives one way or another.
My strongest reaction to the news of "The Foley Scandal" was a kind of amusement that the course of future events might wind up depending on one self-righteous pervert's lack of sexual self-control. I mean think about it - while I don't think these elections will irreversably impact the intermediate future we all face, they'll be important - and the results may well turn on some dumbass Congressman's inability to keep it zipped when teenage boys are around. How can you say that the human condition isn't a comedy?
"When I find a hairy bug," he wrote in a 2003 blog posting, "I love having the developer come in and debug it face to face. It gives me a chance not only to understand more about the product's internals, but also, you have no idea what I learn chitchatting while waiting for debug files to copy, etc. Design and implementation issues, stuff that people have been building off to the side, things about the organization, rumors, etc." He continued: "I suppose this is just classic 'walking the halls,' but I feel as though without this sort of direct nonhierarchical contact I would lose touch with my organization, and people throughout would know I was disconnected and would have no respect for me." [emphasis added]The strongest feature of our society is that everyone is called to account. Power and wealth shield you from it - somewhat. But what is happening that frightens me far more than a randy Congressman and abused teenagers is the increasing ability of many elites to keep themselves from being held to account - a trend that is (slightly) pushed back by the increasing transparency of society and the fact that so damn many of us are watching. Foley felt free to indulge his (immoral, illegal) sexual obsessions because he felt protected by his position. The GOP leadership looked away because he was inside the walls, and so entitled to the protection of his position.
He got caught, and they got caught, and the fallout will be a price they have to pay. (note that Mickey Kaus has some numbers that suggest that Florida voters either expect this kind of thing or just don't care.)
But, on a cosmic scale, or to an American soldier somewhere, it must seem funny as hell that this is the kind of thing that can turn elections.