Well, That Didn’t Take Long…
Rumor has it that the GOP is busily shoving Sen. Larry Craig out the door (H/T Howie) and simultaneously trying to wedge him back into a closet somewhere (H/T Pam). (Nothing like some video scrubbing among pals [H/T Atrios], is there?)
That didn’t take long, did it?
Whatever happens — resignation, retirement, a stubborn need to run again for a seat that the GOP needs to hold in a primary that is bound to be uuuuuuugly if that happens — one thing is very clear: this isn’t getting better any time soon for Sen. Craig or for the GOP-in-denial (Sen. McConnell’s office, for example, claims they heard about the Craig arrest and guilty plea just yesterday afternoon. Failure to accept responsibility or cover-up, you decide.). From Cillizza’s The Fix:
This story seems likely to up the ante on retirement although Democrats cautioned Monday that Craig is notoriously stubborn and might just try and see this thing through.
Craig’s ability to weather this storm depends on what else comes out in the coming days. The Roll Call story was devastating, although Craig did seek to push back on it in his hometown paper, arguing that he never should have pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct in a mens bathroom in Minneapolis airport.
As of this writing rumors continued to swirl about other revelations regarding Craig that are set to emerge. If the story continues to grow beyond what has been reported, it would be difficult for Craig to hold on no matter what he wants to do.
A quickie guilty plea is odd behavior for an elected official, I have to say — normally, you see someone fight tooth and nail on something like this, or a very contrite and immediate public apology and PR festival (see Vitter, David). I am wondering what other shoes may drop on this subject in the days to come. It seems I’m not alone (via DKos):
The arrest at a Minnesota airport prompted Craig to plead guilty to disorderly conduct earlier this month. His June 11 encounter with the officer was similar to an incident in a men’s room in a Washington, D.C., rail station described by a Washington-area man to the Idaho Statesman. In that case, the man said he and Craig had sexual contact.
The Minnesota arrest was first reported Monday by Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper.
In an interview on May 14, Craig told the Idaho Statesman he’d never engaged in sex with a man or solicited sex with a man. The Craig interview was the culmination of a Statesman investigation that began after a blogger accused Craig of homosexual sex in October. Over five months, the Statesman examined rumors about Craig dating to his college days and his 1982 pre-emptive denial that he had sex with underage congressional pages.
The most serious finding by the Statesman was the report by a professional man with close ties to Republican officials. The 40-year-old man reported having oral sex with Craig at Washington’s Union Station, probably in 2004. The Statesman also spoke with a man who said Craig made a sexual advance toward him at the University of Idaho in 1967 and a man who said Craig “cruised” him for sex in 1994 at the REI store in Boise. The Statesman also explored dozens of allegations that proved untrue, unclear or unverifiable.
As the surrounding layers of facts become more and more murky, the one thing that is crystal clear to me is that there are a whole lot of questions — years worth — swirling around Sen. Craig. And that we should expect his need to retire and spend time with his family at some point, unless his famous stubborn streak kicks into high gear.
Does private behavior matter when it comes to public officials? It’s a question that has been asked for as long as there have been politicians, for which there are no clear-cut answers (this article from a Jacksonville paper [H/T to Equality Florida for the find] is a good start). However, when you mix in hypocrisy on the very issue for which questions are raised, that adds a whole new dimension to the conversation. There are a whole host of yet to be answered questions lurking out there on Sen. Craig — and the answers to them always have a way of coming out.