Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Senator Larry Craig

I met Senator Larry Craig when I was in high school. We had some sort of question and answer session with him my junior or senior year. He did not make a good first impression with me. He seemed creepy. Like a slimy politician. You know, like the ones in the movies that are slick talkers and up to their eyeballs in corruption. But that's pretty much been my entire experience with the Senator, outside of reading news releases and voting records.

Well, Idaho media is insane with activity right now because Senator Craig recently pled guilty to lewd conduct in an airport bathroom.

Wow.

The back story here is that rumors of homosexuality have dogged Sen. Craig for years, culminating in last year's allegations by a gay activist intent on "outing" the senator. The activist made his claims via blogs, and from there his story was picked up by radio commentators and cable news shows. Through it all, the senator denied everything. Denied it so vehemently, in fact, that a pretty thorough investigation by the Idaho Statesman was shelved, much to the Idaho blogdom's anger, because they couldn't turn up any true evidence that the senator was lying. Now the Statesman apparently feels the bathroom incident is proof enough and they have run their story, much to the glee of Idaho bloggers. Idaho liberal blogs have been salivating over the possibility of Sen. Craig's outing for almost a year, and now all that pent up, repressed anxiety is being released on the internets.

But this is more than just an Idaho story, or even just an Idaho blogging story. The Daily Kos reported on it, as well as many other large national blogs, and a quick googling shows an enormous amount of national news spotlight on the senator.

Senator Craig, of course, denies wrongdoing, saying it was all a misunderstanding and that he only pled guilty in order to deal with it quickly and move on. Unfortunately for him and his family, nobody I have seen is buying that story. In fact, there is a strong movement to ask him to resign his senate seat.

So what now? What's my editorial on the subject? I always cringe at the feeding frenzy these things create. I think it's unseemly, petty, and too often partisan. Everyone suddenly thinks themselves a psychologist, and analyzes the whys and what for's of the story. Republicans will call for his resignation, touting it as proof that they clean house when lawbreaking happens in their party, while Democrats do not. Democrats will say that this is just another name in the long list of evil Republicans. Read the comments on the liberal blogs and you'll see them delight in writing things like, "are there any straight Republicans in Washington?"

It's like it's a big game. Funny stuff.

It's sad that a US Senator was in all likelihood soliciting sex in an airport bathroom. It's sad that anyone is soliciting sex in airport bathrooms. It's sad that it's so much of a problem that the US has undercover police in airport bathrooms.

It's sad that this bit of gossip is passed around the world and commented on by millions of people; not for understanding, or out of any idea of mercy or justice, but because it's juicy gossip- salacious news we can use to drive ratings and score political points.

Because of this, there will be no resolution. There will simply be accusations and denials. Any way you slice it, it's a huge mess. Senator Craig's life and legacy are pretty much shot, regardless of who's telling the truth, and that's a shame.

20 comments:

Democracy Lover said...

I agree that this is a real mess and we can all feel bad for Craig's family.

What is worrisome about this and the recent trials of some other major political figures is that they were among the major advocates for "family values". I truly don't feel it is any of our business what members of Congress do in the privacy of their homes or in other private venues. I don't really think it's our business whether they have extramarital affairs or gay sex -- UNLESS they are making a public (and political) commitment to traditional family values.

If a US Senator tell us that he is a gun control advocate but then secretly go hunting, that activity (ordinarily not newsworthy) should be reported. The same holds true for sexual indiscretions. If a Senator cannot control his sexual urges and keep them within his marriage vows, then he should not advocate in public what he is unable to practice in private.


Glenn Greenwald has an interesting article at Salon on the subject of Senator Craig and those who once backed him. I think you'll find it interesting.

Anonymous said...

I always cringe at the feeding frenzy these things create. I think it's unseemly, petty, and too often partisan.

The quickest way to end future "partisan" feeding frenzys is if the party that jusitifiably brings this upon themselves would STOP pretending to be morally superior. Craig, along with Vick in Louisiana, feigned moral "outrage" at Bill Clinton's sexual behaviour. Does anyone believe for a split-second that if the rightwing didn't invite intense scrutiny upon themselves by their laughable "superior family values" that these incidents wouldn't be handled with more discretion? Craig RAILED against Clinton for his sexual behaviour, just as Vick did! A party that is notorious for characters like Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, etal., will continue to be justifiably seered when caught practicing the sexual acts they pretend to be outraged by.

Craig deserves nothing less than the shame he helped reap on this nation in the 1990's. It is SOLEY the "family values" party that has itself to blame.

Anonymous said...

Larry Craig comedy video-
http://podblanc.ath.cx/?q=node/5778

Goat said...

I am starting to smell a rat in this sordid affair.Could it be because Gov. Romney is gaining the momentum and Craig was his Idaho chair.

Goat said...

Democracy Lover should be relabeled as Socialist Shill.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Cam, I really like this. I, too, believe that this is blown WAAAAYYYYY out of proportion, even given the natural human tendency of schadenfeude (a fancy German word that means, roughly, "Neener-neener-boo-boo"). I believe this is much more of a personal and social tragedy than a political comedy. Sen. Craig in all likelihood is so far in the closet he can't see the light under the door, partly because he is afraid of the approbation of those around him, his family and friends. I find that so sad. Having seen enough of these kinds of solicitations myself (I was joking when I said at my site that I "never knew" about this; any guy who has ever been in a public restroom more than once has seen it, and usually turned away in disgust), it is usually an older man with a gold band on his finger - a married man too afraid of himself to just be who he is.

I do not believe Sen. Craig should step down. I do not believe Sen. Craig should do anything other than tell those sanctimonious members of his party to shut up and leave him alone. Those who live in glass bathrooms shouldn't throw stones, after all. Does anyone really think he is the only one over there at Union Station reaching under stall walls?

Goat said...

OK, time for adults to move on, we have many more serious issues to address. He is a sick wierdo and needs to resign.

Dave said...

Goat - "I am starting to smell a rat in this sordid affair.Could it be because Gov. Romney is gaining the momentum and Craig was his Idaho chair."

Give me a break... This is TYPICAL of the people you'd find all around Romney's campaign if you look objectively -- and that means ignoring religious preference. Romney is just as much a hypocritical NeoCon shill as Craig and Crapo. And that's not "anti-anything" other than anti-hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Goat. The Senator from Idaho is a sick wierdo and should definitely resign. I also believe Craig's claim that he is not gay - he must be very sad...

Anonymous said...

I am not a Romney supporter or a religious guy but I think Dave's remarks do not sound very objective and Geoffrey, any man living in a glass bathroom must surely be stoned! :) Are you?

Democracy Lover said...

Why is it that all of you think Craig should resign? Because he is a closeted gay man? Because he got caught doing something embarrassing? Or is it because he has been exposed as a hypocrite?

Frankly, Craig's actions don't really have anything to do with his performance as a Senator. Why should Craig resign when Trent Lott, who basically sold his office, is still sitting at his Senate desk?

G. Parker said...

I fell bad for the guy's family. What a situation to be in. And it kills me that they had set up a sting operation in the first place...what a world. Good blog.

Democracy Lover said...

For you and your readers, I'll pass on Glenn Greenwalds's latest column on the Craig incident where he makes the point that "family values" politics seems to make a spurious distinction between homosexual behavior outside marriage and heterosexual behavior outside marriage (Vitter, Guiliani, Gingrich, etc., etc.).

I think he's right on the mark and it is something that people who truly believe in the value of the family and personal integrity should take to heart.

Rob said...

To Quote Sam Green:
"Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, sat all alone. As other senators debated this life-or-death issue of war, Craig looked down and doodled on a small piece of paper the size of a coffee coaster.
He did this for at least a half hour, probably more, meticulously drawing some four-sided object and switching pens from time to time."

He was probably thinking of or drawing a Minnesota restroom stall?

Chancelucky said...

I do know that Ted Haggard was cured of all these impulses in just a couple months after he publicly admitted to them....so there may be a way for those who feel homosexual urges not to be homosexual if they truly don't want to act on them.

Perhaps the people who helped Ted Haggard can work with Larry Craig. It seems that he has fought the impulse very hard for many years and that he still lost everything by taking the risk he did.

I hope those that supported him over the years and voted for him will give him the support he needs now that he no longer is in public life. It would seem sad to me if he's cast out of the party for which he worked so hard. Perhaps he'll have the chance to campaign for the family values agenda that seemed so important to his political legacy.

Democracy Lover said...

I have had the "opportunity" to hear Craig's interrogation and the police report of the "incident" more than I would like over the last few days.

While I agree that engaging in sexual acts in public places is and should be illegal, regardless of the type of act or the sex of the participants - since when is hitting on someone in a public place illegal? That seems to be all that Larry Craig did.

Craig used signals that are apparently common in the gay world to indicate that he was sexually interested in another man. How is this different from a guy offering to buy a girl and drink and asking her if she comes there often?

No one dropped their pants, no one grabbed anyone's privates, no money exchanged hands, no one even spoke out loud about their desire - so what's the crime? Why is it that women can learn to rebuff male advances and men have to call the cops?

Dave said...

To the anonymous fellow who felt my earlier comments were not objective:
Another example of Romney's NeoCon corruption -
here

Freddie said...

is craig a mormon or not,, i have heard so many things one way or the other

Cameron said...

Senator Craig is not a Mormon.

Shazam McShotgunstein said...

Mr. Craig is a Methodist.