October 7, 2007
I have been assiduously avoiding writing about Larry Craig, but like herpes and homophobic hypocrisy, he Just. Won’t. Go. Away.
Craig is the Idaho Republican who was going to resign from the Senate after being caught with his pants down last June in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom. After considering his options for six weeks he pled guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of “interference to privacy,” the polite legal euphemism for trolling for blowjobs in a public toilet.
When the guilty plea became public in August Republican “leadership” (read: Sen. Mitch McConnell) put the pedal to the media metal to get Craig to resign because of the “Eeeww” factor and because, well, he was no longer in the Log Cabin Closet where Republicans hide their (shhh!) homosexual supporters. (Even though Craig, married with three adopted children, protested a bit too loudly that he is not now, nor has he ever been gay. Joe McCarthy is smirking in his grave.)
Well, you already know the rest of the story: The Minnesota judge said in October Craig could not withdraw his guilty plea, and then the good Senator decided not to resign, but would stay in office until his term ends in January 2009.
Assuming he doesn’t change his mind. Again.
I do resent the relentless GOP putsch to drum him out of office because they think he is gay, however. Did they do the same thing when Republican Senator David Vitter was found to be boffing whores in N’Awlins?
No, of course not. Because Vitter wasn’t boinking boys. And if he resigned, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco would replace him with a Democrat. (Idaho Governor Butch Otter would replace Craig with a fellow Republican, most likely Lt. Governor Jim Risch who is already salivating for the job like a dog in a butcher shop.)
I knew Larry Craig. In 1983 when I was working as a journalist, he offered me a job as his media flack, the guy who goes before the cameras when the boss is too busy elsewhere. I turned him down, partly because I was headed for San Francisco, but also because I wanted nothing to do with his particular brand of “drown the baby in the bathtub” scalping of government programs by cutting taxes for the wealthy and large corporations that gained credence under the Reagan administration.
Craig sneaked into the House of Representatives in 1980 surfing on Reagan’s coattails, taking the seat vacated when Steve Symms trounced Democrat Frank Church using Jerry Falwell NCPAC money.
In 1982 Representative Craig (a longtime bachelor) was implicated in the House pages sex and cocaine scandal but nothing came of that investigation. He was elected to the Senate in 1990, and over the years established a reputation for voting against equal rights for homosexuals, including the right to marry and the right to have same-sex unions. He also voted against declaring gay bashing a hate crime.
In 1995, in what may have been his most heinous act, Craig formed an all-male barbershop quartet called The Singing Senators with Trent Lott and former Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Who can forget Ashcroft’s extraordinary rendition of “Let The Eagle Soar?”)
When fellow Senator Barney Frank was embroiled in a gay sex scandal Craig led the charge to censure Frank. On Meet The Press Craig called Bill Clinton “a nasty, bad, naughty boy” for committing adultery with an intern. And over the years Senator Craig has embraced his party’s appropriation of the Family Values brand on their product packaging.
But Craig’s denial that he is gay is eerily reminiscent of Clinton’s assertion that a hummer is not sex. Technically, they both may be correct, using a strained interpretation of the English language familiar to lawyers and politicians. But looking for a 10-minute date in a public restroom is still kinda yucky, and oral sex is still sex, no matter what they might teach you in Little Rock Law School.