Frank and I have been making fun of Idaho senator Larry Craig for a couple of days. We’ve been greeting one other with “I am not gay.” to which the response is “I have never been gay.” This is inexplicably hilarious to us, and we hope our gay friends won’t disown us. Like most folks who know and actually like gay people, we see Craig as fully hypocrisy-compliant figure. His arrest and embarrassment, and possible loss of his office, should he run again next year, would be a just outcome.
But when Republican officeholders yesterday (including John McCain) started urging that Craig resign, I began to get a gnawing sense that the senator from Idaho is not the only one with a hypocrisy problem. The calls for his resignation focus on the fact that he broke the law and plead guilty to doing so. Fair enough. The crime to which he plead guilty is a misdemeanor. It is not subject to prison time or a trial. if misdemeanor crimes committed by politicians are in fact grounds for requiring their resignation, shall we also force out those who inadvertently carry guns through airport security, or drive under the influence (without causing injury)? You see, both of these crimes have been committed by members of congress in the past couple of years. And I take no joy in telling you that in the most recent cases, the offenders were Democrats. Though I don’t have facts in front of me, I would wager that there are a few Republican DUIs that could also be dredged up in comparison.
The demands by members of his own party that Larry Craig resign are part damage control, and part a response to the ick factor of homosexuality, as experienced by straight men. In terms of Republican senate hopes, it’s beter for the GOP if Craig resigns or doesn’t run. If he does run, they’re bound to help him, and that would be awkward. The Democrats faced the same problem when $90,000 in cold hard cash turned up in congressman Bill Jefferson’s freezer. He ran for reelection and won. Very inconvenient for the Dems.
It doesn’t help Craig with conservatives that Craig parted company with them on the president’s recent immigration bill. A guy who likes I-legals and gay sex pretty much has no chance to obtain the kind of circle-the-wagons protection that crooked cabinet officers and congress members that like money more than sex are afforded by the selectively sanctimonious .
If you want proof of this, consider the good fortune of Louisiana senator David Vitter, recently found to have his phone number in the records of the “DC Madam” and accused by a New Orleans hooker of having been a good customer. Vitter has not been convicted, or even charged with a crime, but it is not this that keeps him in the good graces of the Republican party. It’s his solid conservative record, and the fact that he likes women,not men.