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TOP OF THE TICKET

Mark Foley's second act, on the air

Despite the scandal that drove him from office, the Florida Republican apparently has an audience for his new radio talk show host. Also: Sarah Palin makes her international debut.

September 27, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman

Yep, it's true. There's no shame in America, only a rehab industry.

Mark Foley, the Florida Republican who left Congress in 2006 amid accusations he sent lurid e-mails to male House pages, is credited with helping to sour the electorate's view of the Grand Old Party in a year when Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats swept into power.

In the years since, he's been in real estate investment, contemplating a return to politics. On Tuesday, he made his debut as a radio talk show host. "Inside the Mind of Mark Foley," billed by the station as a program that "will expose the inner workings of Washington, D.C.," airs on WSVU-AM (960) out of North Palm Beach, Fla. It can also be heard at www.seaviewam960.com.

Inside the mind of Mark Foley? Does anyone really want to know?

Apparently the Conservative Republican Alliance does. In an interview with the group, Foley held forth on several issues:

On his sex scandal: "I am solely responsible for the problems I faced in 2006. I took responsibility; I resigned from the job I loved and a career I had built for 30 years. I did not break any laws; however, I owed my constituents, my colleagues and my family a far better standard than I set."

On returning to politics: "I doubt I will reenter the political arena as an office-seeker, but I will use my experience and my voice to help others; to rally for economic sanity; to bring about real reforms on a local, state and even national level."

On Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's prospects of winning the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat: "If anyone thinks this election for U.S. Senate is over, then they better pay attention. We are in a very unique time in America's political life. . . . There are no sure bets in politics, and money alone is not the key barometer."

Sarah Palin hits the lecture circuit

Ex-Gov. Sarah Palin made a decorous debut on the international stage Wednesday with a long speech to investors in Hong Kong.

As politicians like ex-President George W. Bush prefer when they leave public office, the event was closed to the evil, distorting media that's probably too cheap to buy a ticket anyway. And as with teenage dating, there's nothing the pursuer wants more than something he can't have.

So, of course, some details always leak out. Palin was reportedly well-received and folksy at times, but gone was any hard-edged partisanship so familiar from the campaign a year ago. She did not mention what's-his-name in the White House who clobbered her Republican presidential ticket in November.

"I'm going to call it like I see it," she said, according to the Associated Press, "and I will share with you candidly a view right from Main Street, Main Street U.S.A."

She made an argument for a private industry solution to U.S. healthcare problems, for lower taxes and reduced government. She suggested that China play a more responsible role in international affairs, especially concerning North Korea and Afghanistan.

Her first post-resignation trip abroad will be seen by many as the start of her campaign for the 2012 Republican nomination. It is, of course, way too early for that decision to be made. She'll be testing the waters here and there, gaining experience and being seen in new positive locales, not so much because she's decided to run but in case she decides to run.

Meanwhile, what's often forgotten is that the old-fashioned lecture circuit -- especially internationally, where curiosity and interest in American public figures run strong -- is a lucrative gig for former American politicians.

Palin signed with the Washington Speakers Bureau, the same agency that booked Bush into a closed business forum in Calgary, Canada, last winter and a discussion with President Clinton in Toronto in the spring. Despite his personal scandals as an Oval Office incumbent, Clinton became a multi-multi-millionaire from whopping speaking fees around the world.

Palin has reportedly received more than 1,000 invitations.

Put 2012 aside a moment and recall that in addition to her book advance, Palin needs to make some big money to pay off lingering legal debts from investigations that she blamed for her premature gubernatorial resignation in July. And without ongoing publicity, the shelf life of an out-of-office politician can be short -- and the appearance price tag small.

For the opposite, think of someone named Newt Gingrich, who resigned as GOP House speaker after a bad election outcome 11 years ago. And yet he lives -- and talks -- on. And on. And on.

--

andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

Neuman writes for The Times.

Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.

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