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.
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.