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The swift-boating of Senator Craig

On Monday, Roll Call ("The newspaper of Capitol Hill") broke the story of Senator Larry Craig's (R-ID) guilty plea following his arrest in a sex sting in the Minneapolis-St Paul airport in June. Today, Saturday, he resigned his senate seat, done in by members of his own Republican party.

When the news broke, prominent Republicans couldn't wait to call for Craig's resignation. Presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ) was first out the gate, quickly followed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Craig had been state co-chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and Romney quickly shunned Craig and removed all traces of him from Romney's campaign website. From there, the pressure only built. Despite clinging to his claim that he'd done "nothing wrong," Craig announced his resignation today in a Boise, ID, press conference, "effective September 30.... to allow for a smooth and orderly transition for my loyal staff, and for the person appointed to take my place." His announcement was quickly followed by a statement from McConnell that Craig "made a difficult decision, but the right one." Even President Bush got on the phone to wish Craig well. For Republicans, Craig can't get out of town and out of sight fast enough.

We've all had our laughs over a hypocritical, gay-baiting Republican getting caught playing footsie with an undercover cop in the men's room, myself included. Now it's time to take a more sober look at this incident and what it tells us about politics and American culture.

Misbehavior on the part of elected officials is nothing new. The list of even recent miscreants is long:

But note that William Jefferson and David Vitter still occupy their seats in Congress. It seems you have to actually plead guilty to a crime or be involved in homosexual sex for the boom to be lowered. Consorting with hetersexual prostitutes (Vitter) is apparently OK, and so is accepting a bribe (Jefferson) if you don't plead guilty.

Jeff Danzinger
Jeff Danziger

This is sick. The Fundies and the Republicans have done such a good job of demonizing homosexuality that Craig, a powerful Senator — who didn't even have sex (this time!), but merely signaled his willingness to engage — was willing to plead guilty to something he insists he didn't do, pay a fine, and accept probation in the hopes of making it all "go away" rather than tell anyone, even his own wife or a lawyer, what had happened. That is the epitome of desperation, a direct consequence of the thrall in which the Republican party is held by the Fundies.

Despite growing acceptance of homosexuality by Americans, especially younger Americans, Karl Rove and his buddies have so successfully exploited homosexuality as a wedge issue that the only person willing to stand up for Craig was Tom DeLay who, as an ex-congressman (another scandal) has little to lose. Of course, DeLay was using it as another opportunity to spin fantasies about how it's all the press's fault and how it keeps "Republicans from fighting for things that are important, like the good news in Iraq," but nobody else was willing to say anything remotely positive, publicly.

We would all be so much better off if America would stop being so fixated on other people's sex lives. Put simply, Get a grip!

In the meantime, if you still need a good laugh over the whole sordid affair, watch Keith Olbermann's Dragnet parody on uTube. Click here or on the image below.

You may also enjoy Tap Three Times ("... with your loafer if you want me, twice on the tank, if you just gotta go-o" (uTube)