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Resignations, Returns, and... Er... Restrooms

Resignations, Returns, and... Er... Restrooms

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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Senator Larry Craig has had a bad week. One could almost use the ubiquitous tag "embattled" for the Senator, which up till now, was exclusively reserved for Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. But even the formerly embattled GonzalezGonzales was knocked off RSS feeds across the country for the Craig story. Suffice it to say his alleged misconduct, to which he mistakenly pleaded guilty, is the political buzz of the week. (Along, of course, with Senator Tim Johnson's return, and more primary squabbling.) So who better to discuss everything from Gonzalez'sGonzales' exit to restroom behavior, but our own Ken Rudin. PoJu is in session.



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It's worth remembering that Mike Rogers over at has been pushing this story for ages.

It's he (more than the Idaho Statesman) who deserves credit for exposing Sen. Craig's bitterly ironic behavior.

Sent by Jay Lassiter | 2:10 PM | 8-29-2007

Let's hear some more about the AG's quitting. I've been waiting for it, not really expecting it, for months. Is it wonderful, or will Gonzalez be like Rumsfeld and likely Rove, still around, just not officially? The man wrecked not just the Justice Department, but collaborated in wrecking the principles of justice in the country. Let's talk about that, hmm?

Sent by Cheryl | 2:25 PM | 8-29-2007

As an independent I find it interesting that, generally speaking, the "zipper problems" with both parties tend to break down along the lines: for Democrats, fairly routine run of the mill stripper kind of problems and for the Republicans, odd, weird, sick and twisted congressional page boy kind of zipper problems. And the more conservative, the more affiliated to the Religious Right, the kinkier. I am not sure if Freud could figure it out. Maybe it falls along the lines of: the more repressed, the more "upright n uptight", the more finger wagin, the dirtier the toilet toe tappin.

Sent by George from Oregon | 2:27 PM | 8-29-2007

I think that one characteristic of the contemporary Republican party is loyalty above all else (the Bush White House being the prime example). The way in which Republicans are not rushing to the aid of their Idaho colleague -- in fact, doing the opposite -- along with the few but noteworthy departures from the party line on the war and on the Gonzales hoohah... Does this show that Republicans are learning that loyalty may become more costly? Could there be a shift toward more responsible , less personal-favor- and GOP-network-based politics?

Sent by Rebecca, Louisville, KY | 3:11 PM | 8-29-2007

I don't usually defend Republicans, especially anti-gay ones. But in this case, I think we need to keep in mind a few things:

1. According to the police report, all the Senator did was tap his foot and wiggle his hand. The arresting officer never claims that Craig exposed himself, performed lewd actions in public view, or asked for sex. Is foot tapping now enough to be arrested?

2. This was a highly trafficked bathroom in a major airport. The police report states that Craig waited two minutes for a stall to free up. How would sex be possible in a place with so many others around to hear and potentially see?

3. Gay men around the U.S. are well aware that restroom stings are a frequent and common way to harrass gay men who have NOT propositioned the officer. It's jokingly referred to as "peeing while gay." In a he said/he said exchange, the man with the badge always beats the man with the lisp.

So while we snicker and laugh at a probable hypocrite and his embarrassing comeuppance, let's remember that this is an arrest based merely on one plainclothes officer's interpretation of non-verbal behavior. And doesn't this officer have a better place to be than hanging around in restrooms hoping for some interest from sad closet cases?

Sent by Robb Gries | 3:12 PM | 8-29-2007

Also, isn't it "Gonzales" with an S?

Sent by Rebecca, Louisville, KY | 3:14 PM | 8-29-2007

I'm waiting for the explanation that he was tapping his feet to some tune on his ipod.

Sent by tim | 3:22 PM | 8-29-2007

You're absolutely correct, Rebecca! Thanks for catching our mistake.

Sent by Sarah Handel | 3:40 PM | 8-29-2007

Commmentators have been speaking as if the corruption scandals and unpopuluar war are coincidentally linked. I disagree with this implication. Nobody is happier than I to see the Republican party self destruct, but I believe that there is an enormous amount of corruption going on all the time, but participants only get "caught" when their party is seen as vulnerable or unpopular.

Sent by Allison Sayer | 6:25 PM | 8-29-2007

To Rob Gries,
I agree with your statement. The problem is he pled guilty. Now he claims he didn't know what he was doing and didn't have his lawyer but isn't his job in the law field? Why would you plead guilty to that and then change your mind? Even if you thought it would just go away why would you say you did it if you were just minding your own business.

Sent by John Rivard | 9:06 PM | 8-29-2007

If Mr. Craig is stupid enough to plead guilty to something he says he did not do in a mens room in an airport and then later deny it, he has no business being a U.S. Senator. Period!

Sent by S. & P. Johnson | 9:52 PM | 8-29-2007

Everyone has a family whose values may be as close, or as far away from societal norms. Unfortunately, the values of some professions cause individuals to lead dual lives. Vehemently opposing the values of some, when you are in actuality engaging in the same activity is duplicitous. Two of Craig's passions were mutually exclusive. Oppression will always lead to deviance. Hopefully, something positive will come from this.

Sent by Wayne Przybylowski | 11:26 PM | 8-29-2007

Senator Craig told his audience several times that he was not gay. Being gay is not illegal. Solicitaion and lewd behavior in public places is.

k treble

Sent by k. treble | 12:59 AM | 8-30-2007

To John Rivard,

Thanks for responding to my post. Yeah, he did plead guilty. It's hard to defend a guy who says he did it but then takes it back. In fact, I suspect he probably DID cruise the officer. I was just reminding myself and others not to jump to conclusions.

But to answer the question "Why would someone plead guilty to something he didn't do?" I can think of several reasons:

He was embarrassed at the charges getting out, and knew that people would automatically assume he was gay simply by being accused.

His position as a Senator would be ruined if a national scandal erupted over a trial about tearoom sex.

Gay rumors were swirling about him for years, and he may have decided that even if he wasn't cruising for sex, he
couldn't weather another trip on the rumor mill by fighting the charge.

He may have thought paying the fine and telling no one would spare him having to look his wife and kids in the eye and trying to explain why he got arrested for St. Vitus' dance.

And lastly, many gay men have done that very thing-- paid fines they didn't deserve to keep themselves out of the papers.

Now did the Senator plead guilty for any of the above reasons? I don't know. But I do know the Stonewall Riots began after police arrested a bunch of gay men who finally got sick and tired after years of being harassed by homophobic police.

It's just sad to me that Senator Craig is getting treated more harshly for asking for sex than Senator Vitter is for actually getting it and paying a prostitute to boot! The only differences seem to be that the object of his alleged desire was a man, and that he stupidly asked in public, and not over the phone.

He's an anti-gay closet hypocrite, most likely. But the double standard at play here still rankles.

Sent by Robb Gries | 10:19 PM | 8-30-2007