The second pedophilia scare has served a more pragmatic purpose: legislative blackmail. During the past few weeks, the Ways and Means Committee has been considering a $2.3 billion bill for the U.S. Customs Service. Federal employee unions, Democratic members, and the White House strongly opposed a provision that would limit certain kinds of overtime pay for customs officers. In the face of this opposition, Republicans played the molester card. They added $10 million to the legislation for customs to investigate Internet kiddie porn traffickers. They also added money for drug interdiction.
Democrats on the committee endorsed the child-porn and drug funding but voted against the bill in subcommittee because of the overtime provision. Trade Subcommittee Chairman Phil Crane, R-Ill., immediately accused the minority party of giving aid and comfort to molesters. "This bill protects our children from drug dealers and pedophiles, and it's unfortunate that the Democrats have put special interest pressures ahead of our children's safety," Crane said.
Democrats, unwilling to take another beating, folded, voting unanimously for the bill in full committee. It passed the House Tuesday by 410-2.
A Democratic staffer gripes, "There is not a single member of the House who objects to the funding to fight child porn, but Republicans constructed the vote in such a way that a vote against the bill can be framed as a vote to say Democrats favor pornography. They added on the child-porn provision and the drug provision simply to force us to vote for them. And we had to."
(Which raises an intriguing notion: Why aren't Republican members of Congress attaching anti-pedophile measures to every bill? What are they afraid of?)
Now that they have conquered the House Democrats with bogus pedophile charges, House Republicans are siccing the tactic against the White House, which still objects to the overtime provision. "Our children are under attack by child pornographers who prey on them over the Internet. Couple that with the constant peddling of narcotics to our children and you have a deadly combination that we must do everything we can to stop. This is not a time for partisanship or special interest influence," Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, warned the president this week.
The president, who doesn't want to be called squishy on molesters, will probably cave. Once he does, perhaps the two parties can abandon this imaginary controversy and tackle the scourge that actually plagues Washington--not child sexual abuse, but child sexual abuse abuse.