Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) is being drummed from office by his party. As I wrote in my last post- there is no doubt in my mind that Craig is a closet case, but I still feel that being arrested for making gestures that are associated with soliciting sex in a rest room but are not necessarily soliciting sex is absurd. Have we suddenly become a society where the thought police can arrest us- because they know what we are thinking? I thought that only the federal government with powers granted to it through the Patriot Act was the only entity that could arrest you for what you are assumed to be thinking.
I’ve said before that I want the hypocrite to squirm and I am not unhappy to see him go from the Senate although who knows what nut bag yahoo Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-ID) will name as the new Senator. You can bet we won’t be seeing a re-make of “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”! Otter’s voting record when he was a member of Congress is pretty much what you would expect from an gun totin’ red neck – a loyalist to President Bush. Progressive is not an adjective one would associate with Otter. So- the chances of a decent replacement are pretty slim.
But I don’t think that Craig should have been drummed out of office by his GOP pals. I reiterate- he didn’t do anything that rose to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Although Craig’s behavior was suspicious- do we arrest people for suspicious behavior? Apparently we do! But if this had gone to court I don’t think it would have passed the laugh test. In these circumstances the police tend to bully people into pleading- playing on their fears and insecurities. I find this sort of police work reprehensible. I would hope that the police have better things to do with their time than men’s room sting operations unless they assume that a pedophilia ring is operating out of that particular location.
Yet- one after another GOP members of the House and Senate and the party’s presidential candidates called for Craig to resign. Mitt Romney had to come out (no pun intended) and say something, no matter how ill thought out or how inane because he has to position himself as a social conservative. Quite frankly I don’t think Romney has any particular compass to lead him on social issues other than the wind. He’ll say anything he things people want to hear in order to get elected. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was quick to say that his call for Craig to resign had nothing to do with Craig being gay rather- if a member of a senate pleads guilty to a crime- than he should resign.
Sorry Senator McCain, I just don’t buy that. I could be wrong- but I think that visiting a prostitute is considered a crime. Senator Vitter (R-LA) admitted to that act- but he wasn’t drummed out of the Senate. He wasn’t even reprimanded- as was Congressman Barney Frank in 1990 when he admitted to receiving the services of a male prostitute. Although his actions were creepy, technically Representative Tom Foley did nothing illegal- but he too was forced out of office when it was divulged that he had written suggestive messages to Congressional pages and former pages all of whom were older than the age of consent.
If the GOP is drumming out elected officials because they are hypocrites and their personal life is inconsistent with their policy positions – there would be few members of the GOP – but there would certainly have been pressure for Senator Vitter to resign. If they sought resignation from elected officials for being guilty of a crime- then Vitter should have been terminated as well. Although he didn’t technically plead guilty to a crime in a court of law or to a police officer, he did admit his guilt to the world Is there really a difference?
So why is it that Craig must go and Vitter can remain? Two reasons come to mind.
First is that that Republican Party is the party of homophobia. It is okay to have sexual peccadilloes if you are not gay or if you aren’t named Bill Clinton. Just look at the homophobic positions of the GOP presidential candidates. They hate gay people- pure and simple. There is no debate- the GOP does not welcome gay people. I give credit to the Log Cabin Republicans for trying and trying and trying to get an invitation to a club that clearly doesn’t want them (thank you Groucho Marx).
Second is pure politics- cynical ugly politics. Vitter is from a state that has a Governor who is a Democrat. He would likely appoint a Democrat and giving a wider margin of majority to the Dems. Craig is from Idaho where there is no chance in hell that Governor “Butch” will appoint anything but some Republican from the Neanderthal wing of the party. So there is nothing to lose by asking Craig to go, while there might have been a lot to lose by booting Vitter.
Is any of this surprising? Sadly it isn’t.