Less than a week after news broke that Sen. Larry Craig had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in connection with a police sex sting this June in the men’s bathroom of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Idaho’s conservative senior senator announced his resignation.
The speed of Craig’s resignation -- just a few days after he insisted his guilty plea had been a mistake and announced, “I am not gay. I have never been gay” -- said a lot.
At first glance, it showed that the righteous Republican Party, the one that brought us Rep. Mark Foley’s congressional page follies a year ago, figured it couldn’t afford another festering case of family-values hypocrisy in the run-up to next year’s presidential election.
Vitter, one of the most unctuous of the family-values sanctimonious on Capitol Hill, sailed through the incident with a brief (and undoubtedly humbling) admission that he had sinned. Larry Craig never had that chance. In Republican circles, it seems Larry Craig’s sins, which despite his guilty plea he has denied, are beyond forgiveness.
Perhaps I'm being harsh, but I can only conclude that if you’re a right-wing Republican it’s OK to talk about the sanctity of the family while diddling a member of the opposite sex behind your wife’s back. But it’s not OK if you’re so much as considering making whoopee with a member of the same sex.
Republicans, of course, already have developed talking points to differentiate the two cases. Craig, Republican pundits and talking heads have pointed out, pleaded guilty to a crime (although not explicitly to soliciting sex). Vitter did not.
That, however, is hogwash, points out Joshua Micah Marshall on his blog, http://www.talkingpoints.com/
“For one thing, confronted with evidence that he made use of a prostitution service, Vitter conceded immediately that he'd ‘sinned,’" Marshall notes. “I'm not an expert in the subject, but as I understand it, paying for sex is a crime, and Vitter publicly acknowledged that he'd violated this law. He would have been subject to criminal charges, but the statute of limitations ran out.”
Oh …. Whatever.
Where is Karl Rove when the Republicans really need him?