I would liked to have been a fly on the wall in the Senate cafeteria when Sen. Larry Craig showed up for lunch for the first time since his run-in with the law, the media and ultimately his own party comrades. That scene must have been in contention for "Frosty Moment of the Year."
It was just what the Republicans didn’t need – to be reminded, and worse, have the public reminded, of the deep hypocrisies in their positions and actions on the so-called “social issues” – gay sex, adultery, abortion and perhaps matters of law and order in general.
Repeatedly, mean-spirited critics of these activities have turned out to be perpetrators themselves. Mark Foley, the protector of congressional interns; Jim Bakker, the keeper of marital fidelity; Ted Haggard, the keeper of sexual standards; Rudy Giuliani, the guardian of family values (New York style). We shouldn’t leave out Henry Hyde and the rest of the Clinton impeachment posse, a number of whom it turns out were playing out a version of “Desperate Senators” (not to mention more desperate senators’ mistresses) while chastising the president.
And let’s certainly not forget Rush Limbaugh, the scourge of those drug-addict types – people who do anything to get their fix and need to be severely punished. I confess, the self-righteous and mean-spirited arrogance of these individuals makes their come-uppance a satisfying treat.
The “Party of Family Values” (PFV) doesn’t need more reminders of these hypocrisies, especially when poised to nominate for president a New Yorker on his third marriage, whose second wife didn’t even know she was being replaced until she heard it on the news. Give me an occasional men’s room encounter anytime.
To make this even more embarrassing, the PFV shows its stripes also as the “Party of Compassion,' as one Republican after another lost no time distancing themselves from their former colleague, faster than anyone could say Max Cleland. Jesus stood next to the woman who was about to be stoned. “Let he who is without sin . . .” No Jesus-like responses here for these modern-day agents of the faith.
Larry Craig became an anathema to the PFV and a scapegoat for American social mores. Not that he didn’t help things along a bit, in ways of which he didn’t seem aware.
It used to be that a U.S. Senator playing footsie meant he was considering changing parties. Senator Craig may owe no explanations to his constituents for being gay, or for being open to unorthodox fun, preferably in private. But if stupidity were a capital crime, his life wouldn’t be worth much.
Senator Craig used his first press conference to emphatically deny being gay, as if that were his worst apparent transgression, much less crime. Never mind dissing the legal system he supposedly oversees by pleading guilty to something he subsequently says he didn’t do. Never mind flashing his senator’s business card at the first opportunity, to let people know he wasn’t just playing footsie with them, yet again.
Mostly, I am appalled by the lack of respect for the legal process by this law-and-order zealot. The senator denies the allegations of being gay – “not that there would be anything wrong with being gay” – he pulls off this line better than Jerry Seinfeld ever could. This seems far more important to him than any alleged violations of our criminal justice system, not to mention the sacred culture of airport men’s rooms.
The recorded interchange between Senator Craig and the undercover policeman in the next stall, doing whatever they were doing, is a most incredible piece of recorded dialogue of a public official. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Did he really try to pick up the piece of toilet paper with his left or right hand? Another question keeps coming into my head – pending questions about possible criminal acts notwithstanding – is this the best we can do in choosing the 100 individuals to make the laws of our great country?
The fact that he represents yet another gay-basher turning out to have some dubious sexual-identity credentials of his own adds to the irony, and certainly to the credibility of the next Foleys, Bakkers, Haggards, Hydes, Gingriches, Agnews, Nixons, et al, and other self-appointed guardians of our family values. How many more scandals are yet to be uncovered among these folks?
It’s time we put our moral attention on real moral issues – war, poverty, health, violence in the world, and let these self-righteous, would-be moral leaders play their silly games on their own time.
© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.