The political opportunism surrounding the Mark Foley story is getting pretty bad. Foley is a sick man who needs help. The story itself is a small and unfortunate one, worth a day or two of moderate coverage. If the Republican leadership covered-up Foley’s contact with these boys, then that’s a story too and worthy of more intense coverage.

But many of those who oppose the Republicans have reacted to this story with a disturbing amount of glee. (I don’t need to link – just go check out the numbers of breathless stories about Foley on any left-of-center blog.)

A Republican who’s gay! Who has a thing for underage boys! Who abused his power! In an era where the lowest-common-denominator story gets top billing, this is just what the Democrats needed to cast the Republicans as hypocrites. Not enough people were paying much attention to the far bigger stories of incompetence in Iraq and at home. But people will pay attention to sex. And the media will always feed us salaciousness whenever they can.

I guess that’s just the way the game is played these days. It’d probably be politically idiotic for the Democrats and their allies not to jump all over this. It’s just too perfect. Finally, a story the Democrats can tell without having to clarify or explain. “The Republicans say they are for family values. But they’re really harboring child predators.”

That’s it. That’s all you have to say. It’s that frickin’ easy.

Forget that Foley, while a sick man who acted inexcusably, isn’t technically a child predator (the boys in question were hardly children — we give a pass to men lusting after 16-year old girls all the time, although they do rightfully get in trouble for crossing the line like Foley did). But “child predatorâ€Â? is such a good word to pair with “Republican Congressman.â€Â? It all makes a nice little symbol to repeat over and over and over.

Now, if the Republican leadership (and not just a few staff members here and there) really did cover this up, then they deserve whatever punishment the voters dole out. But if there was no real cover-up and this story still ends up changing the outcome of the November election, then that’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of American politics.

Anyone who is just now waking up to the fact that hypocrisy runs rampant through the Republican party is either blind or willfully ignorant. It shouldn’t take cold and blatant opportunism by the operatives of the left to alert people to this reality. But that’s what we have. Excited, stumbling-over-themselves opportunism.

I don’t believe anyone commenting on this story really cares about Foley or the boys with whom he had contact. They care about what’s to be politically gained (or lost). And ain’t that just the way of it?

Politics Foley: The Perfect Story for Democrats