Larry Craig mug shot Senator Larry E Craig (R-ID) mugshot. Note the American flag in his lapel (SmokingGun.com, click image for larger version)

Busted in the bathroom

Stall tactics

Another one bites the dust! This time it was Senator Larry E Craig (R-ID) who was nailed at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport in June for playing footsie under the stalls in the men's room with an undercover policeman.

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Like Florida state representative Bob Allen, Craig insists he "did nothing wrong" and it was all a big misunderstanding. Only thing is, he plead guilty to a lesser charge, "in the hope of making it go away."

Wrong! The story was all over CNN and the other cable news channels, testing reporters' ability to keep a straight face while on camera.

In a Boise press conference, Craig chalked it all up to "a poor decision" because he had been "relentlessly and viciously harassed" for the previous 8 months by the Idaho Statesman. It could just be me, but my opinion is that the Idaho Statesman's investigation was pretty thorough and well done.

Although Craig sought no counsel from "an attorney, staff, friends, or family," Craig says he has now hired counsel "to examine this matter." In other words, he wants to take his guilty plea back.

Craig says he "was not involved in any inappropriate conduct" at MSP "or anywhere else." And lest anyone have any question about his sexual orientation, Craig proclaimed, "I am not gay and never have been."

Right! And Nixon was "not a crook" and Clinton "did not have sex with that woman."

Craig's story has many characteristics now familiar from the playing out of the stories of other GOP hypocrits:

An attempt to intimidate the arresting officer. Asked for his identification, Craig handed the officer one of his US Senator business cards and asked, "What do you think about that?" (See arrest report, (PDF))

Craig and his wife Mrs Craig doesn't look too happy

Show of family solidarity. Like Senator Vitter (R-LA) before him, at Craig's press conference, his wife stood resolutely by his side.

Presidential campaign involvement. Like Vitter, Craig was part of the presidential campaign of squeaky-clean, now-social-conservative Mitt Romney, who wasted no time distancing himself from Craig. Shocked! Simply shocked! Press releases and a video endorsing Romney for his "strong family values" have silently disappeared from the Romney website.

Family values facade. Like Foley, Allen, Vitter, and others of his ilk, Craig put up a facade of championing "family values," i.e., he's one of those rigid, far-right, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, judgmental, socially-conservative busy-bodies who wants to mind everybody else's personal business.

strong families

Craig's manifesto, Standing on Principles & Working for Idaho (PDF), includes a section on working for strong families, touting Craig's opposition to gays and gay marriage (see left). Of course, he puts it as "defense of marriage" and "protection of marriage" against those pesky activist judges and uppity gays who think "equal protection" means equal. Mysteriously, the section of Craig's senate website that is all about his working for strong families craig.senate.gov/families has been redirected to a page on adoption of children. Fancy that! At least somebody on his staff has a sense of shame.

It is simply too precious that Craig is wearing an American flag in his lapel for his mug shot (see above).

What to do? What to do about this epidemic of falling GOP angels?

First, enjoy it! Some people seem driven to acquire power, and they soon begin to believe they are special people not subject to the same constraints on behavior as the rest of us (think: lots of politicians, celebrities, athletes). When they fly too close to the sun and their wings melt, the rest of us are entitled to take pleasure in their downfall. In the case of hypocrisy, pleasure is doubled — at least!

Second, in view of the high incidence of sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill, the Centers for Disease Control should devise a sex-education course for Congress; it should be mandatory for all members of Congress, with annual refreshers for the GOP, since they seem more at risk. Anonymous sex in public bathrooms is, after all, risky behavior that exposes not only the lawmakers, but also their families and other partners, to sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). It would be hard for the party of family values to object.

Third, all candidates for public office should be screened for creative and mental development. People like Craig who expect us to believe stories like his have no business being in government.

Tom Toles
Tom Toles. Priceless.

Nick Anderson
Nick Anderson