New discord has erupted in the White House, a senior government official has told The Garlic, as President Bush, barring a late change of heart, is planning on presenting the Medal of Freedom Award to the scandalized ex-Congressman Mark Foley, the epicenter of growing Congressional scandal.
Foley resigned last Friday, after ABC News reporter Brian Ross broke the story of Foley's sexually-charged emails and instant messages to Congressional Pages.
Ironically, Foley was the co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, and a leading figure in the fight against on-line sexual exploitation of children.
Additionally, Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) are also being implicated in the possible cover-up of Foley's behavior. Coming under additional scrutiny is a $100,000 donation Foley made to the NRCC, chaired by Reynolds, just weeks after House Leader Boehner was advised of Foley's "inappropriate contact" with a Congressional Page.
For the White House, the Foley Scandal may be the best thing to come along for them over the past week.
"Boy, you couldn't have order a better scandal than this Foley thing," offered Dix Whitcomb, editor of the newsletter "Our Laws Are Different". 'They can send everyone in the Cabinet out on the talkshow circuit, to throw dirt on Woodward and all that does is increase the talk, and probably the book sales."
"This can take the whole issue," continued Whitcomb, "of Woodward's book and Iraq off the table. And you can bet the Rove and Company is working on just that."
On the surface, the White House is giving the appearance of distancing themselves from the Foley Scandal, that it is a problem for Congress to clean up. On Monday, in an interview with CNN, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow displayed an indifference to the scandal, saying that the sexually-graphic emails sent by Foley, to a number of teenage pages were "simply naughty e-mails."
Behind the doors of the West Wing, a very different scene has been playing out.
In a staff meeting yesterday, President Bush announced to the group that he is considering presenting to Foley, who has checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation clinic, and now claims he was molested by a clergyman in his youth, the Medal of Freedom Award, for his years of service in Congress.
The meeting, according to the source, became very contentious at that point, with Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley backing the President, while Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and Special Councilor Dan Bartlett weighed in against it.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose to excuse herself from the discussion, indicating she didn't want to be put into the position of having to deny she was in meeting, that she knew of some action being requested or discussed, at some later Senate or special committee inquiry.