Friday, August 31, 2007

Is Larry Craig gay?

Why do we care so much? Because he's a US Senator? Because he's a Republican? Or maybe because he's voted against such measures as legally recognized gay marriage?

Well, regardless of why we care so much, I think we can all agree that the American public, the media, and certainly the US Government itself is wrought with hypocrisy on this matter. We all know of countless "sex scandals" that have occurred privately and publicly across this nation. Seems like every month or so there's another scandal that makes the evening news. Certainly public offices, especially one as influential as the US Senate, deserve this level of extreme scrutiny. I'm not arguing the scrutiny. But why don't we apply the same standards of scrutiny and public admonishment equally across the board? My guess is that Larry Craig will soon resign, ending a distinguished career of public service. His voting record is indicative of a strong conservative. He's considered one of the more senior senators, and along with that seniority comes influence on the floor, and influence in the many committees of which he is a member. It's my opinion that the GOP should have considered what was at stake before joining in the witch hunt instigated by the Idaho Statesman and propagated by just about every news source in the country calling for his resignation. If he resigns, the GOP will lose an influential and powerful conservative force in the Senate. Unfortunately, he's already damaged goods in the wake of this scandal, and has probably already lost the political capital he's worked so hard to accrue over a lifetime of public service--never to be recovered again.

I'm not necessarily defending the man. Perhaps (truth be told) he deserves all this. But why are we as a nation so quick to crucify him? Why did his own Republican base turn away from him after only one errant report from MSNBC? I know it was errant because I personally watched Tucker Carlson report that Larry Craig pleaded guilty to lewd conduct. This is very much a significant point, because even though he was arrested for lewd conduct, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct--a far different charge. Even today, reporters continue to mislead us with this very significant error. But that same evening, MSNBC and others reported that members of his own party are rebuking his "misconduct".

Let's take a moment to examine what ACTUALLY happened that fateful day at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. According to the written report from the arresting police officer, Senator Craig propped his roller carry-on bag against the door of his bathroom stall, placed his right foot on the floor near the right edge of his stall on the floor near the open space that separates his stall from the adjacent one, and he proceeded to tap his foot. Upon seeing this, the plain-clothes cop placed his left foot against Craig's foot, and Craig (allegedly) played "footsie" with him. They (allegedly) attempted to exchange phone numbers/communication through the gap between stalls with their hands, and at that time the officer identified himself as a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. Craig identified himself as a US Senator, was detained, and escorted to the police station for questioning. He was charged with lewd conduct, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct as a part of a plea deal that was offered by the assistant district attorney's office which included a fine of $575 and a year of unsupervised probation. According to reports from Craig's representatives, part of the ADA's deal included not going public with the incident--a promise that cannot be kept due to the fact that every arrest is a part of public record.

So,, what does all this mean? Senator Larry Craig (by his own admission) was guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor charge that is typically handed down to citizens who play their music too loud, who get in bar fights, who loiter outside convenience stores, or who walk down the street drunk. Granted, not good things, but certainly not crimes as severe as solicitation for sex, lewd and lascivious conduct, indecent exposure, sodomy, statutory rape, or the like. Can we all agree on that point? But you wouldn't be able to discern the difference based on the reports from CNN, NBC, and dozens of others. As we all know, they reported the story as though Senator Craig pleaded guilty to solicitation for sex. Maybe that was his intent. But maybe it wasn't. And last time I checked, we live in a society of "innocent until proven guilty". If the ADA had thought that the lewd conduct charge could have held up in court, he wouldn't have offered the plea deal in the first place. We've all watched Law and Order, so we all know that if the DA has a solid case, they never offer a deal. Only when their evidence is shaky, do they resort to plea bargaining. So clearly, the DA in this case knew that they didn't have much of a case against Craig. Perhaps they knew that even the method by which Craig was observed, could be construed as entrapment. The facts are the facts. And in this case, a distinguished United States Senator is going to lose his job over an offense comperable to playing Snoop Dogg music too loud while rolling down Main St., according to our own written statutes. And who hasn't listened to Gin and Juice a little too loud,, right? Fo' shizzle, ma nizzle,, that's what I say.. ;)

Like I said, I'm really not defending Larry Craig as a person (I don't know much of anything about the man even though he is my Senator), or his alleged actions. But I am disappointed that public opinion has tarred, feathered, and convicted him of much, much more than what he pleaded guilty to. In my personal opinion, the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota District Attorney's office should be criticized for their entrapment of Senator Craig at the airport, and their subsequent unprofessional and arguably unethical/illegal behavior in offering Craig terms of a plea deal that could not be met. Should Craig have known better, of course! He's a lawmaker for Pete's sake!! But you must admit, a small fine, and a promise of anonymity to sweep the whole incident under the rug is a tempting offer for anybody,, let alone a public figure like Larry Craig. And furthermore, I'm sure that he probably wasn't exactly thinking straight under the duress of being arrested for something that could potentially "out" him about his sexual orientation. Which brings me to my next point...

Based on the evidence, I am quite convinced that Larry Craig is a "closet" gay, if not at least bi-sexual or bi curious. Regardless, I wasn't aware that revealing one's sexual orientation is a requirement of public office. Is anything private anymore? Clearly not,,, and that further explains why Craig resorted to cagey techniques of "picking up" men like tapping a foot in a men's room--techniques that were more commonly used decades ago when homosexuality was much more stigmatized than it is today. Under current circumstances, it is much more socially acceptable to be gay, so the secretive methods of meeting other gays aren't as necessary as they once were. But for a potentially "closet" gay public figure like Craig, who very much would need to keep his orientation a secret, he is understandably forced to resort to methods such as tapping a foot on the floor of a men's room stall in order to meet other gay men, so as not to divulge his own orientation to the public. But once again, even if that is in fact what he was doing, where's the crime? Even if you happen to be a US Senator, it is still legal to be gay. In fact, it's legal to be gay, and not tell anybody about it. I'll take it a step further and say that it is legal to be gay, and still argue/vote against gay rights measures on the floor of the US Senate. People are calling Craig a hypocrite for this, but perhaps he sees it a different way. Perhaps he is gay, but still doesn't believe that gay couples should have the same rights as traditional heterosexual married couples. Or, maybe he believes they should, but knows that his constituents in Idaho are opposed to gay marriage and other measures intended to increase the rights of gays in America. Or, more likely, he knows that if he votes for gay rights, he won't get re-elected in Idaho. Regardless of the reason, are any of these scenarios illegal? Certainly not, but Larry Craig is definitely paying penance for any of these possibilities, even though legally, all he was convicted of was disorderly conduct, of which he paid the $575 fine as punishment.

I said it before, and I'll say it again,,, I'm not necessarily defending Larry Craig as a person or defending his actions. What I am doing is pointing out the facts, and how disappointing it is that an unfounded witch hunt has resulted from misconstruing those facts--a witch hunt that was absolutelly fueled by our shameless media. There's nothing more frustrating to me than hypocrisy. The public is indicting Craig for hypocrisy without even knowing for sure if he's gay!! But we (as a nation) aren't seeing the hypocrisy that we are in large part responsible for. Mr. Clinton had inappropriate sexual relations with an intern, lied to the public and to a grand jury about it, yet still remained in our nation's highest office. The late Gerry Studds, male Democrat from Massachusetts, admitted to having sex with a male page (on his own staff) in 1973, the year he took office in the US Congress. He was re-elected over and over till his retirement in 1997. Openly gay Representative Barney Frank, Democrat from (guess where) Massachusetts of course, admitted to having consensual sex with a male prostitute in 1990 and was re-elected by 66% of the vote in his district that year, and has been re-elected by greater margins ever since!! Larry Craig, Republican Senator from Idaho, pleads guilty to disorderly conduct, claims he's not gay, and will probably be forced to resign by a bandwagon of hypocrites--Republicans, Democrats, politicos, reporters, columnists, and the American public as a whole. You tell me if this seems fair and just... ?? It almost seems un-American! Indeed, is justice being served with the resignation of a distinguished senator that is probably very confused, conflicted, and most likely struggling with his own sexuality/morality?

Obviously, my feelings on this matter would be much different if he was convicted of solicitation [or worse]. Solicitation is a significant crime that should probably result in resignation, censure, or worse for a US Senator. But the plain and simple fact is that he wasn't convicted of that crime. I personally believe that Senator Craig was soliciting sex in that bathroom stall, and if I sat on a jury, I would likely argue accordingly. And because of my personal opinion, I probably won't vote for him again if he does manage to seek re-election.. I have that right not to vote for him as a legal resident of Idaho, but I don't have the right to convict him of a felony because I'm not sitting on his jury. None of us are! He was never tried! He was never judged by a jury of his peers! He very well may have been soliciting sex, but the simple fact of the matter is that he wasn't convicted of that crime. A court of law did not determine his intentions beyond a reasonable doubt. Maybe his intention was to pay that officer for sex, or maybe he was simply cruising for for a date, or maybe it was just a big misunderstanding like he claims. We'll probably never know because the jury of public opinion, stoked by bloodthirsty liberal-biased media sources, has already tried and convicted Senator Craig. In this great nation, I thought we believe in due process, but we as a nation denied that right of due process to Larry Craig, and nobody seems to care.

In the words of Larry Craig, "I am not gay, I've never been gay," but am I the only one in America that sees this whole ordeal as absolutely atrocious? Gay or not, Larry Craig deserves the same rights we afford every other citizen of the great "land of liberty" we call America...


Grace said...

I hear you loud and sorry to hear about Craig's resignation scheduled for tomorrow morning. The whole process seems completely unjust and un-American...not much these days seems to surprise though, appall me, yes, surprise me, no.

Caddis fly said...

Perhaps it's for the best. I think he's probably got some personal issues that deserve his attention more than his job. Fortunately, Idaho is one of the last bastions of hope for the GOP--we have a Republican Governor so it's likely that he will appoint a Republican replacement for Craig--probably his Lt. Gov. Jim Risch. Everybody may be right about Craig, but it saddens me that we seem to be abandoning the judicial principles on which this nation was founded because of media-led lynch mob politics. If the media turns against you, the public is soon to follow--look at Don Imus, Scooter Libby, Alberto Gonzalez, or even George W. Bush just to name a few. All good people whose names have been absolutely dragged through the mud in the name of politics..

Rebecca said...

Truth be told, this whole country is a bit too "holier than thou" for my liking, and it clearly seems that there's a lot of "doth protest too loudly" going on everywhere, but almost explicitly within the poitical circles. For the year 2007 - almost 2008, we're much more closely resembling the Puritanical days than progressive ones; wouldn't you agree?

A person's sexual orientation to me has little or no bearing on their ability to perform their job in any capacity, be it professional athlete, military member, or politician.

And yes, the media is responsible for most of the the "free thoughts" of the American public. It seems that most of society are nothing more than sheep following a rather corrupt, biased and very fickle shepherd.

Chris Ritter said...

"And last time I checked, we live in a society of 'innocent until proven guilty'"

-Come on, dude. When has this ever been the case? When has the American cultural sphere ever paid any attention to what it's supposed to do according to the law? The Court of Public Opinion doesn't give two shits and a damn about "innocent until proven guilty." Never has, and never will.

"will probably be forced to resign by a bandwagon of hypocrites--Republicans, Democrats, politicos, reporters, columnists, and the American public as a whole. You tell me if this seems fair and just... ??

-Now here, you're right.

Everyone's after Craig, because everyone's got something to gain, and he's an easy target.

I have an uncle who works for the other Idaho senator. He said once (he may have been summarizing someone else) that Washington politics is like a bunch of enormous boulders rolling around, joining and crashing into each other. An individual might be able to move them a little here and there, but the best hope he/she has is to stay out of their way as long as possible. Nevertheless, he/she will probably get run over sooner or later.

I think the Craig thing is a good example.


Craig works for years and years in the Senate, presumably amassing lots of experience and knowhow and credibility. And then a miniscule legal affair kills his career.


Yes, the media is Evil. It feeds on human drama like a fly on dogshit (to use a stale metaphor). But the media is not a separate entity: it's ultimately a mirror of the culture's ideologies (it has to sell itself to us by showing us what we want to see). There must be something else at work.

Well, there are the Dems, for whom this whole thing is easy. They benefit no matter what: they say nothing, and so they reinforce their ethos as the party of acceptance, while the GOP kills one of their own for falling on his own social-conservative-focus-on-the-family sword.

And let's talk about that sword. The GOP has to shun Craig because he exemplifies their own weakness. The GOP is hurting right now, because (through the Bush administration) they've relied on social conservatives for the last seven years, and now, the Bush regime is facing lower and lower approval ratings. They might lose in 2008. The ship is sinking, and rats are jumping. Fact is, the ones who've treated Craig the worst have been in his own party - like Mitt Romney, who practically yelled, "Ew! Fag!" as he cut Craig from his campaign wagon. There's a strain of homophobia running through all of this, and it's the elephant in the room.

Craig is getting squashed by an elephant he helped create. Can we really be that sorry for him?

Rebecca said...

So the holiday party didn't inspire you? Too bad... :(

Anonymous said...

When will the caddis fly speak again??

Runner's Heart said...

I just read an article that reminded me of this blog entry. I am interested what you think of it and how it relates to your commentaries on Larry Craig, conservatives in this country, etc. Here's the link if you are interested: