On September 1, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) resigned in the
wake of the latest Republican sex scandal.
Craig had been caught in a sting
operation making sexual overtures towards a cute undercover cop in an airport
restroom, and then pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in hopes that this would
make the whole matter go away. But it didn't go away. And, when the news hit
the media, several key Republicans promptly called for Craig's resignation.
But why did Craig really resign? And why did the Republicans
get so worked up about this?
After all, other politicians have been caught up in sex
scandals of their own, only to survive and thrive in office, even recently.
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) comes immediately to mind. Earlier this year,
Vitter was identified as a client of the "DC Madam" and a New Orleans
brothel, and yet the Republicans stood by him, and Vitter is still in the
Senate. Is hiring a hooker less of a crime that making a pass at another guy in
the men's room? I am not a lawyer, but I don't think so. At least, it shouldn't
Sure, the Craig story is creepy, but what's so different in
this case that merits the degree of pressure and humiliation that Craig has
been made to suffer? Let's see . . .
Was it because of the hypocrisy? Was it about the fact that
Craig had consistently voted against the interests of gays and lesbians, and
judged others on their sexual behavior, while he was busy participating in his
own gay sexcapades? That would be a good reason to call for his resignation.
But I don't think it was the real factor at play here.
Was it because Craig was actually arrested, and actually
pleaded guilty to something, whereas Vitter did not? If so, wasn't Vitter just
lucky because the statute of limitations had made prosecution unlikely in his
Was it because Craig didn't handle the fallout as smoothly
as Vitter did? Perhaps. Vitter delivered an Oscar-worthy press conference
performance, his poor wife at his side, in which he admitted to his mistake,
apologized profusely, and promised to do all he can to rebuild the trust of his
constituents. Emotionally moving enough to win some sympathy. Craig, on the
other hand, had an opportunity to redeem himself in a similar manner, and he
blew it (no pun intended).
So then was it for partisan political reasons? We might be
getting warmer here. If Vitter had resigned, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco
would likely have appointed a Democrat to replace him. However, Idaho is a very
red state, so Craig will most likely be replaced with another Republican. That
Senate seat is safe.
But I think it has even more to do with the gay issue.
Vitter solicited a woman's sexual favors. Craig solicited a man's.
And this can help set the stage for the 2008 campaign
season, in which the Republicans will likely cling to their tired old themes of
God, guns, and gays.
Meanwhile, American troops and innocent civilians are dying
in Iraq, the polar ice caps are melting fast, and 47 million Americans do not
have health insurance.
Can we really afford to waste time worrying about the sex
lives of our politicians?
Does it really matter to you? Does it really matter for
Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and
activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the
Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on
politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous
online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the ideas
expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may
be associated. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.