Mercieca's 'Fondling' Tipped to Sway Washington's Balance of Power

By David Lindsay
Malta Independent
November 5, 2006

Some three weeks ago, the suggestion that the ramifications of the acts of a single Gozitan decades ago could end up swaying the balance of power in the United States would have seemed ludicrous.

But since Fr Anthony Mercieca's admission that he had what he described as "inappropriate" relations with a young boy while serving as a priest in Florida, the suggestion appears all the more plausible.

As the American electorate goes to the polls on Tuesday in what is expected to be a close battle for control of the American Congress and one in which the Democrats hope to wrest power in both houses from the Republicans, they will be weighing a lot of issues, not least of which will be the Bush administration's handling, or mishandling, of Iraq.

But also on their minds will be the recently revealed actions of the Republican Party and allegations that it had tried to cover up accusations that the now disgraced Republican congressman Mark Foley had sent lascivious emails to underage congressional pages.

Foley, who is now undergoing rehabilitation treatment, has since resigned and has admitted to being an alcoholic and a homosexual and that he had been abused as a 12-year-old altar boy by a clergyman who, it turns out, was Fr Mercieca.

It's not exactly quantum theory, but more of a snowball effect. A young boy is sexually abused. The boy grows up and becomes a politician, only to embark on similar sexual misadventures, as do many victims of such abuse. The politician is eventually disgraced and, with mid-term elections just around the corner, it turns out that his party, already embroiled in accusations of misleading the public on other scores, had tried to cover up the scandal.

In a recent poll carried out by Time magazine, two-thirds of Americans said they were aware of the Foley scandal, while 25 per cent said the scandal would make them less likely to vote for Republican candidates in their districts come Tuesday, in what is expected to be a tight race.

The magazine's conclusion is that the Foley affair may very well have dashed Republican hopes of retaining power, with an overall 54 per cent saying they were more likely to vote Democrat as against 39 per cent for the Republicans.

Only 16 per cent of those polled said they approved of the Republicans' handling of the scandal, while 39 per cent agreed that Republican House speaker Dennis Hastert should resign over accusations that he acted to cover up Foley's emails.

The Republican win in the last presidential election was in no small part due to the strength of the religious right on issues such as gay marriage and stem cell research, which gave the Bush administration an electoral endorsement at a time when the country was faced with a crisis over its actions in Iraq.

If the poll is correct, and the Republicans are indeed voted out of power in both houses as a result of the Foley scandal, Democrats across America will, albeit under dubious circumstances, have a lot for which to thank the little island of Gozo, and currently the world's most famous Gozitan.


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