. . . Officials at the Republican National Committee readied a news release calling for Mr. Craig to resign but withheld it after learning that there were independent efforts under way to persuade Mr. Craig to quit.
Those actions came after the Republican leadership called for an ethics inquiry and stripped Mr. Craig of his leadership posts on three committees after his guilty plea at the beginning of August to what an undercover officer described as a sexual advance in a men?s restroom in the airport terminal.
Despite such unusual steps against a Senate colleague, Republicans took no punitive action against Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, after his acknowledgment this summer of involvement with an escort service that the police described as a prostitution front. . .
I have mixed feelings about this case. In the context of past incidents, the situation looks pretty damning, but after listening to the tape of the police interrogation of Senator Craig, I have to say that the cop’s case against Craig seemed pretty shaky to me. It was a no-win situation for Craig. Not pleading guilty would have meant an arrest and a big media blowup for sure, but the facts as they stood would certainly have provided ample reasonable doubt to acquit him. This is part of the reason I don’t like the fact that the police have so much power in America (at least in some ways), because the public sees an arrest as equivalent to a conviction and the bar is so, so low to arrest someone.
Certainly Craig’s conduct in the restroom was suspicious, but I don’t think that suspicious behavior alone was enough to make an arrest. If Craig had verbally offered to perform a sex act in a public place then fine arrest him (I guess… I don’t see the cops going after straight folks like this) but the mere fact that he did non-verbal things that could be interpreted ambiguously to me is not enough to ruin this man’s reputation.
On the other hand, to me Craig’s conduct after the fact was more troubling. He should have told his wife what went down and I think it would have been best for him to plead not guilty if he did not in fact commit the crime (or at least call an attorney first). He definitely showed poor judgment in not getting an attorney and in covering up the arrest, but can you blame him either?
Honestly, this whole thing seems way blown out of proportion. I think Craig is guilty of being too quick to plead guilty to a crime that he may have not committed, but I’m not sure if that is enough to get him thrown out of politics.
I’m also concerned that this story will be used as yet another example of how “those homosexuals” are deviant perverts. My gay friends are just as moral and just as ethical as my straight friends. I know people do things like seek anonymous sex in bathrooms, but none of my friends (gay or straight) do so. And for that matter, why is having heterosexual sex with prostitutes relatively forgivable (as in the Vitter case), but seeking out gay sex is unforgivable? Maybe it is just me, but this seems like a double-standard.
And even if folks do engage in deviant behavior (and I would say that having anonymous sex in a public place is deviant behavior), they should shown compassion and love. Setting up sting operations to try to ensnare folks doesn’t seem to serve any purpose except provide a societal scapegoat to keep us all riled up about “those perverts” instead of addressing more serious issues like the war in Iraq and the poor and hungry in this country. The front page news should be screaming “PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS ON THE STREETS OF EVERY MAJOR CITY IN THE RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD,” but instead we get more sex scandals.
Lastly, while it is tempting to go for the jugular and attack yet another hypocritical “family values” politician being brought down, I just can’t find any joy in it. It’s hard to get all hopped up on seeing a man’s life be ruined.