Friday, October 5, 2007

The Senator Who Just Wouldn't Go Away

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in an airport men's restroom... Not so fast.

Sen. Larry Craig vowed Thursday to serve out the last 15 months of his term, despite a court ruling that left intact his guilty plea in a sex sting operation.

The Idaho Republican's decision gives his GOP colleagues two unpleasant choices. They can resume pressuring him to leave, and risk being seen as disloyal politicians who go harder on alleged homosexual misdeeds than on heterosexual wrongdoings.

Or they can basically ignore him for months, and endure more TV comics' taunts about a conservative senator convicted in a case involving public bathroom stalls. Judging from comments in the first hours after Craig's announcement, Republican senators were unsure exactly where to land. Outright confrontation with Craig, however, seems unlikely.

"I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively," he said in a statement. He vowed not to seek a fourth term in November 2008, and the seat is likely to stay in Republican hands.

Five weeks ago, Craig announced his intent to resign Sept. 30 if he could not have his guilty plea rescinded. But Craig, who bridled at colleagues' not-so-subtle hints to leave, reneged on the deal Thursday.
I spent a good portion of this week in the Twin Cities, and I can't even lie, the whole thought of "is there some Larry Craig idd'ish goin' on in here?" hit me each and every time I had to use the bathroom in the MPLS airport. No, I wasn't able to find the infamous restroom itself, though I can't really say I was looking. Cops, or some sort of airport official, seem to float around every bathroom in the airport, which I guess is a good thing.

On the political front, this does present the GOP with a quandary of sorts, I guess. Never a party to throw their own under the bus (see David Vitter), they heaved Craig with the quickness when this story broke, but as it has faded from the front pages, I guess Craig (who still maintains his innocence) figured he had nothing to lose and plenty of salary to gain by just sticking around after all.

Still, considering the easy pass they gave Vitter, it's hard to look at the acts of Craig (who at least didn't go all the way with the act) and draw any conclusion other than that the GOP doesn't want to be associated with gay adulterers, but finds straight ones perfectly acceptable. If you're the Democrats, the party of legal unions and same-sex marriages, this is probably a win-win either way, so who cares.

Craig probably should just fall back and try to reclaim what remains of his personal life, though. I mean, the evidence is overwhelming, and the whole "I plead guilty to avoid the trouble, but I ain't really do it" excuse has to violate one of the Ten Crack Commandments. Even low level drug dealers know that much. A Senator should definitely be hip to the game.

Please, Larry, please. Disappear. Maybe I can go back in a public restroom without feeling creeped out again. [||]

Craig Creates Problems For Senate GOP [CBSNews]

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