James Taranto, who anchors the web component of the Wall Street Journal's nuthouse editorial page, offers the best explanation yet for House Republican leaders' shocking failure to protect the pages in their charge during the whole Mark Foley thing:

We hear a lot about "homophobia," or fear of homosexuality, but if Foley's fellow Republicans failed to be alarmed by his "overly friendly" emails, maybe it was because of something more like homo-obliviousness. Most people just don't think that much about homosexuality.

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When we first read those emails, we found them odd and a bit creepy. But it occurs to us that if a 50-year-old man sent a 16-year-old girl an email asking her to send a picture of herself, that would have set off loud alarm bells and brightly flashing lights. We know how the mind of a heterosexual man works, being in possession of one, and when a guy asks a gal he barely knows for a picture, it means that he has a sexual or romantic interest in her.
When a guy asks another guy for a picture, what does it mean? When we stop to think about it, probably the same thing, but it wasn't obvious to us because it simply isn't part of our experience. We suspect the same was true of Hastert and other House leaders. Kolbe, on the other hand, because he is gay, probably understood better what Foley was up to and that it wasn't good.

Okay, first off, let's pretend that there are people who don't think about homosexuality more than House Republicans (and the folks who pull the levers for them). "When a guy asks another guy for a picture, what does it mean?"

It's a good question. Maybe we should ask all those folks who pony up donations every two years for framed photos of President Bush.

On second thought, let's not. We don't want to know.

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