September 3, 2007
Down the Toilet: The
End of Larry Craig
all, I'd say last Monday was a good day for Rudy Giuliani. Yes, despite
his whole history of divorces, estranged kids, cross dressing, and
shacking up with gay friends, he's now the only top GOP presidential
candidate who hasn't had a mid-level campaign chairman resign after a
same-sex lewd conduct arrest.
Mitt Romney can no longer say that, following the sad downfall of Sen.
Larry Craig, who was (until recently) the candidate's honorary national
chairman. The Idaho Republican, it was revealed last week, had been
arrested in a public toilet at the Minneapolis airport, charged with
indicating to an undercover officer that he wished to engage in public
sex. Craig quickly and privately pled guilty, information that somehow
never reached the press for more than two months.
Craig, in a bizarre press conference, denied any wrongdoing, and that he
is or has ever been gay despite the guilty plea, despite his
resignation from the Romney camp and despite a long trail of rumors,
going back to the 1980s, of a secret gay life led by the conservative,
red-state senator. Craig had also allegedly engaged in certain
foot-tapping signals known to be associated with anonymous public sex,
and had presumably chosen a particular restroom known for that sort of
thing (the cops, after all, must have had a reason to be watching it.)
How did Republicans react to a sitting U.S. senator committing a
not-so-politically-friendly crime, pleading guilty and concealing both?
Aside from the majority, who either called on Craig to resign or hid
under their desks, the reaction was the usual: Blame liberal hypocrisy
(Sean Hannity, within hours, had changed the subject to
Clinton/Lewinsky), or blame the media. (Craig himself, in the press
conference, blamed the Idaho Statesman newspaper for "harassing"
his family, with an investigation so tough that the paper didn't even
run it until after Craig was arrested.)
Lewinsky was almost 10 years ago it's really time to get over it. And
"the media," aside from funny headlines like "His Own Private Idaho" and
"Boise2Men," has handled the incident fairly and credibly. "The Daily
Show," perhaps fortunately for Craig, was on vacation for the week. My
only question is: How did a senator get arrested and plead guilty
without anyone noticing for two months? Doesn't the Washington Post
employ interns to search records for just that sort of thing?
Craig has been stripped of his committee assignments and is resigning
from the Senate supporters apparently not buying his explanation that
he has a "wide stance" while using the bathroom. Not convincing, of
course, but certainly less embarrassing than the last Republican
presidential campaign official to be busted for a similar crime. That
would be Bob Allen, John McCain's Florida chairman, who, when arrested
in a Sunshine State restroom earlier this summer, told investigators
that he'd offered to perform oral sex on an undercover police officer
because the cop was a large African-American man, and "I didn't want to
end up a statistic."
In fact, this is starting to become a pattern. The more anti-gay the
Republican political agenda gets, the more GOP political figures get
ensnared in gay-related scandals.
Craig and Allen, of
course, follow evangelical pastor Ted Haggard and Congressman Mark Foley
in 2006, but that's just the scratching the surface. Spokane Mayor James
West and Virginia Congressman Ed Schrock also were strong opponents of
gay rights who had their careers ended by same-sex scandals. Even the
national chairman of the College Republicans resigned in 2007 after he
was accused of sexually assaulting a male acquaintance.
Sure, give the Democrats Jim McGreevey, but at least he stood up and
came out immediately, rather than lying about his sexuality long after
the truth was known. And McGreevey, I may add, never opposed gay rights
while in office.
Why does this happen? One argument, which I find very convincing, is
that the party that argues for sexual repression by making gay-bashing
a big part of its electoral strategy actually has some people who are
In an America in
which gays and lesbians are more widely accepted, those who are gay
would feel less shame and feel less need to keep it a secret. In the
America large segments of the GOP wants to create one in which being
gay is something to be ashamed of, repressed, or "cured gays are
encouraged to retreat even further into the closet.
There's little question remaining that Larry Craig's political career
ended in that bathroom stall in Minnesota. But what remains in question
is this: How many GOP politicians must get arrested for this sort of
crime until the GOP talking points about "family values" and "protecting
traditional marriage" become utterly laughable?
© 2007 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column #
Request permission to publish here.