As GDPR reported yesterday, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call yesterday revealed that arch-conservative Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) was arrested for allegedly soliciting sex in a Minnesota airport men’s room in June and pled guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charge nearly three weeks ago. Surely there was not much surprise over the story: Questions about the anti-gay senator’s sexuality have circulated since at least 1982. Now, thanks to Monday’s news, the whirlwind is spiralling again.
Almost immediately, Craig, married to a woman and the grandfather of nine, issued denials, calling the Minnesota incident a “misunderstanding” and attributing his guilty plea to a desire to end the matter expeditiously and to a lack of legal counsel. As he had many times before, he insisted he is not gay, that he has never engaged in homosexuality or solicited sex from a man. He stepped down from his leadership post in the campaign for presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And word has it that this newest controversy may play a role in whether the three-term senator will embark on a campaign for a fourth.
Meanwhile, the not-so-shocking story of yet another Republican official who votes against bills respecting the civil rights of GLBT Americans while possibly engaging in the very behavior he seeks to marginalize, is raising more and more questions. Last May, one month before Craig allegedly made sexual advances toward an undercover cop in the airport rest room, the Idaho Statesman ran a report based on a five-month investigation into the many rumors that have dogged the senator:
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. …
[Craig said,] “I’ve been in this business 27 years in the public eye here. I don’t go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn’t do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!”
Craig has said on numerous occasions that he doesn’t care about people’s sexual orientations and happens to employ a gay staffperson hired on pure merit. Years back, he even said that while he considers marriage legitimate only for male-female pairs, he would support civil unions. However, as controversy over his sexual behavior intensified, his anti-gay reputation grew: The senator has cast votes against workplace and hate-crimes protections for GLBT people and has voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, the ban on out gays in the US military, and George Bush’s Federal Marriage Amendment, which, if it had passed (it didn’t), would have outlawed same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Today’s Statesman tells the full story of its investigation of Craig, which covers his college days (where some of his fraternity brothers mention that people did kid the student known as “Mother Craig” about “being effeminate and possibly gay” and a 60s-era girlfriend who recalls feeling like an accessory when on Craig’s arm) through the present, where he is defended even by a longtime openly gay friend, a Democrat who works for the American Humanists Association. “If I thought there was truth to the rumor, I’d be first in line to out him,” Ed Johnson told the Statesman. “But after 15 years in a close-knit community where everybody knows everybody’s business, to be that clandestine and never have anything said — it’s just hard to imagine. I mean, if somebody has a fight and breaks up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, you know it the next day.”
Johnson’s professed cluelessness aside, it must be noted that no one knew of Craig’s Minnesota arrest and subsequent guilty plea (save, perhaps, his wife Suzanne) — until Roll Call spilled the rainbow-colored beans Aug. 27. Apparently, gay or not, men’s-room cruiser or not, Craig does clandestine pretty well.
More Aug. 28 items on the Larry Craig case:
No less/more than Matt Drudge — someone who knows a thing or four about coping with unwanted gay rumors — leaps into salaciousness, calling Craig’s situation “Brokeback Bathroom” and “Craig’s List: Terror in the Toilets.” No link, but we wanted to pass on how one right-wing gadfly is handling the story.
Today’s Washington Post story includes reaction from the Hill and notes that because laws allegedly were broken, the Senate Ethics Committee may have to deal with the matter.
This MSNBC offering is essentially a rehash, but is interesting for the comments posted by site visitors.
A blog posted on the Houston Voice site, whose audience is predominantly GLBT people and allies, notes that the Craig affair is none too surprising.
Adam Graham, an Idaho blogger whose work appears on failed right-wing presidential candidate Alan Keyes’ site, declares the controversy has disgraced the US Senate and the state of Idaho and should bring Craig’s career to an end.
Another interesting commentary comes from The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder and his readers. In this excerpt, Ambinder lists the various tragedies of the Craig affair (but do read the entire thing; the reader comments are fascinating):
## family. Assuming Craig did what the police complaint says he did, the deepest tragedy here is private and personal. The perpetrators of these victimless crimes often are unable to reconcile their concern for their family’s well-being with their own impulses. Ted Haggard’s wife. Jane McGreevey. Tia Allen, the daughter of Florida Sen. Bob Allen. Etc.
## His staff. Members of former Rep. Mark Foley’s staff had trouble landing new jobs. Their resumes have stains through no fault of their own. They suffered fairly considerable emotional distress and embarrassment – and Foley never apologized to them.
## Gay Republicans. After the Mark Foley calamity, many are just now regaining their confidence, buoyed by the relative lack of attention the White House candidates are paying to the “issue” of homosexuality.
## Gays, generally. Mark Foley blamed his bordering-on-pederasty behavior on childhood molestation; the allegations against Craig reinforce another stereotype.
## His party. When Bill Clinton liaised with Monica Lewinksy in the White House, it hurt the Democratic Party in ways the party still doesn’t quite comprehend. It remains a subtext of his wife’s presidential bid. Successive Republican sex scandals – and on a national level, most of the recent sex scandals have been Republican – are hurting the Republican Party. Many conservative evangelicals wonder whether the party tolerates, sanctions and even and covers up the sinful behavior of its members in order to win their votes. [Ed. note: Ya think???]The National Republican Senatorial Committee now has another seat – potentially – to defend. The 2008 Republican presidential candidates now have another curveball to dodge.
The news has made self-described “top gay activist blogger” Mike Rogers a much talked-about guy and his Blogactive a suddenly popular spot. Check out its myriad offerings on Craig and other allegedly anti-gay but closeted lawmakers. (Top gay activist blogger? If Rogers says so… He’s strong and credible to be sure and among the top activist-bloggers period, but shouldn’t that title go to John Aravosis of AMERICA Blog? But we digress…)
Speaking of top gay activist bloggers, my friend and colleague Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out, a group that exposes the potential and proven dangers of ex-gay ministry and the myth that queer people can pray away the gay, weighed in on the Wide Stance Craig story in his own inimitable fashion. First, he quotes the stalled senator’s claim that the cops who arrested him got it all wrong:
“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions,” [Craig] said. “I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”
How the hell were they misconstruing it? We all know that if you shake it more than five times it’s masturbation. Anyone beg to differ? And what’s this nonsense about counsel? Does Craig usually take a leak with an attorney in tow? Furthermore, if he would have handled the matter “himself” he would not have gotten his pecker in a pickle. How many of these incidents will it take before America realizes that the family values crowd is a big, fat fraud? They are a batch of moralizing molesters, pious pervs and values voyeurs. It is time the right just closes shop and stops pointing fingers – because we have no idea where those sticky fingers have been.
Be sure to read Wayne’s entire commentary and the comments it received.
On the right wing, the Cybercast News Service focuses on “homosexual activist” reaction and points to comments made by GLBT leaders when then-married former Democratic New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey came out as a gay American. (Just for grins, note the language the story employs: “[Craig] does not support so-called ‘hate crimes’ legislation, which seeks to give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people special rights,” it says, even though hate crimes laws, if passed, would also in fact protect heterosexual victims of bias crimes.)
ON TO OTHER STORIES
Dark-red side of the moon: Lunar eclipse. Wow. No really, wow. The moon crossed in to the shadow of the Earth for an hour and a half in a longer-than-usual total (and totally awesome) lunar eclipse this morning.
Almost Free, At Last: Officials say the Afghani Taliban plans to release 19 church volunteers held captive since July 19.
Misery Continues: Two years after the onslaught of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, much of the US Gulf Coast is still in deep crisis – and Washington’s recovery plans remain plagued by red tape, failures of oversight and misguided priorities.
Another officer dies while in Bush motorcade: This is just one sad, sad story, and no doubt, the Bushies are sad about it too.
See ya, Jim: The Rev. D. James Kennedy, known worldwide for his TV and radio sermons, his conservative and anti-gay politics and his mission to reclaim America for Christ, steps down as pastor of Florida’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church due to health issues.
Michael Vick may have found Jesus, but I don’t see any savior bringing dead dogs back to life: Awaiting Sentence, Vick Speaks of Mistakes – NY Times
Iraq curfew in effect; pilgrims told to skedaddle: Police ordered a curfew Tuesday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and told more than 1 million pilgrims to leave after two days of violence claimed at least 26 lives during a Shiite religious festival.
Jihadists murder CBS interpreter: The body of an Iraqi man who worked as a translator for CBS News in Baghdad and was abducted by reported insurgentshas was found today. He became the third CBS News employee killed in Bush’s Iraq action.
Turkey elects controversial ex-Islamist leader: Former Islamist Abdullah Gul has been elected president of Turkey following a contest that has split the nation and drawn opposition from the army.
Grecian fires still burn: Foreign firefighters and aircraft joined in battling wildfires Tuesday that have destroyed some of Greece’s lushest landscapes, and the death toll from five days of blazes rose to at least 64.