Larry Craig

Sen Craig asks for a mulligan

Idaho flip-flopper

Who's writing the script for the saga of Senator Larry E Craig (R-ID)? Whether it's deliberate or not, it is playout out as high farce.

After his arrest for soliciting a male police officer in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport in June, Craig had two months in which he could have sought counsel from an attorney, support from his family, or the understanding and forebearance of his constituents. Instead, he told no one, sought no outside advice, and in August plead guilty to a lesser charge in a plea bargain he thought would make the whole affair "go away." It didn't, and so the plot continues to twist and turn.

Defiance and denial. When the story hit the news, Craig took to the microphones in Boise to insist he "did nothing wrong" in that bathroom. What's more, he said, "I am not gay; I have never been gay."

Sex scandal IV. Craig's Republican colleagues were aghast at the prospect of yet another sex scandal involving a member of Congress. The party of family values reeling from the impact of Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) and the male House pages, State Representative Bob Allen (R-FL) and his bathroom encounter with an undercover cop, and the "serious sin" of Senator David Vitter (R-LA) consorting with the prostitutes of DC Madame Deborah Jeane Palfrey, wasted no time in calling for Craig's resignation.

"Intent." Craig, stung by the perfidy of his party, once again took to the microphones in Boise to publicly apologize to practically everyone and to "announce that it is my intent to resign from the Senate, effective September 30" (Statement). He also said he was going to finally do what he should have done when he was arrested at MSP: get a lawyer.

"Maybe no." Hardly had the GOP breathed a big sigh of relief over Craig's imminent (if you can call 30 days "imminent") slinking away, when Craig and his newly-retained lawyers began making noises about not resigning while he considered "his options." Asked about this, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate minority leader, reiterated that Craig had made a difficult but correct decision [to resign], and it was still correct. Will he or won't he? Eventually Craig's staff put out word that it was likely that at the end of September Idaho would have a new senator.

Take it back. On Monday, Craig filed a motion to take back his guilty plea. In the filing, Craig's lawyer said that "Senator Craig panicked and chose to plead to a crime he did not commit."

The dictionary tells us that panic is "a sudden overpowering fright; also : acute extreme anxiety" (Merriam-Webster online). Craig is now asking us to believe that for at least a month and a half he was in a state of such extreme fright and anxiety that he couldn't think straight — and hence plead guilty — but also that he is a good enough actor to hide that state such that nobody noticed it! Not a single Senate colleague, not a single family member, not a single friend — nobody — took note and asked, "Larry, is everything OK?

There is an old saying that one should Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it. Suppose the judge — and it is likely to be the same judge to whom Craig submitted his guilty plea — agrees to let Craig withdraw his plea. What then? Then Craig almost certainly has to face a trial, not on the "lesser charges" that he plead guilty to, but to the original, more severe changes. Is Craig ready to defend himself against them in open court? Talk about fear and panic! It may not be admissable as evidence in a trial, but all the prior allegations of homosexual conduct will come out, all the way back to the allegation that Craig had sex with a male page back in 1982. Won't that be fun?

Why does anybody care? Because Larry Craig has made a career out of gay-bashing and family values. No-one should expect perfection in any human being, but those who claim self-righteous perfection for themselves had better make sure they are pure as the driven snow.

The lawyers will debate the merits of Craig's attempt to withdraw his plea, but in the court of public opinion, the verdict has been rendered: Guilty as plead!