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Posts published in “Day: August 28, 2007”

A matter of time

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

We don't want to swamp the blog with Larry Craig posts, but a little finer point needs to be put here on just what the Idaho senior senator's current status is. Which is: More dire than Craig apparently is willing to accept.

Our initial thought (on hearing the news reports 24 hours ago) was that, since his arrest in a Minneapolis airport mens room had little to do with his work as a senator, he might be able to ride it out, at least through this term (though re-election seems a lot cause). We no longer think so: While Craig is very unlikely to be forced out, conditions are deteriorating so quickly that his staying may soon become impractical.

Craig happened to be in Idaho when the story broke, and this afternoon he delivered a statement at a press conference - no questions taken.

He reiterated that his actions in Minneapolis were misinterpreted and that he should not have pleaded guilty to the disorderly conduct misdemeanor. He said repeatedly, "I am not gay." He blasted the Idaho Statesman: "For eight months leading up to June, my family and I had been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman. If you’ve seen today’s paper, you know why." He apologized to his constituents because "I have brought a cloud over Idaho," though he said he did nothing wrong, apart from his handling of the incident. And of his political plans, he said, "Over the years, I have accomplished a lot for Idaho, and I hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that. There are still goals I would like to accomplish, and I believe I can still be an effective leader for Idaho. Next month, I will announce, as planned, whether or not I will seek reelection." Finally, said he has retained an attorney in the matter and he acknowledged (though this isn't on the Senate web site), "I'm sure this is an issue that is not yet over."

That last may be the most pertinent point. By reaching a quick settlement on the criminal charges, Craig hoped (as he said) to put the matter quickly behind him. That has backfired: This will not end at least until Craig leaves the Senate. In shorthand, that is because his version of events simply isn't being believed, because the circumstances and details unleashed fall into the category of information we'd rather not have known at all, and because of the reaction of his normal political supporters.

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Craig: Next?

So, what was just a couple of days ago rumor, innuendo and speculation, has become hard fact at least as far as politics are concerned: Idaho Senator Larry Craig's arrest and guilty plea in Minneapolis have begun to saturate both national and Idaho media. It has become inextricably attached to Craig, and that prompts the question: What now? Does this mean he he won't run for re-election next year? (He has said that such issues won't affect that decision; but such an assertion is easier to make in advance.) Might it even mean his resignation from the Senate, as it already has his resignation from a top position in the Mitt Romney presidential campaign?

Craig gave no immediate answers. But the speculation is well underway.

We've already suggested the reportage makes unlikely a run at re-election. Resignation seems iffier, but it's not out of the question, and talk about it has gained steam in recent hours. At the Daily Kos site, mcjoan (who hails from Idaho) writes that "My gut says he's going to resign; his being gay wasn't a problem for the Idaho GOP just as long as they didn't "really know" he was gay and didn't have to think about it. Now that it's been exposed, and it's all over the local news according to my sources in Idaho (well, ok, according to mcmom), the pressure is mostly certainly going to be on him."

Of course, that's from someone opposed to Craig. But conservative blogger Adam Graham, a philosophical ally of Craig, wrote this: "Senator Larry Craig’s guilty plea in June of this year to a charge of lewd conduct should lead to the end of his Senate career. The honorable thing for Larry Craig to do is to resign. . . . Senator Craig’s explanation that this was all a “misunderstanding” doesn’t wash. Nor does his explanation of his guilty plea as something he did to resolve the issue expeditiously jibe. No innocent man in his right mind would plead guilty to a loaded charge like “lewd conduct” much less a man with 27 years in Congress. If Senator Craig is lying, he has a serious problem, if he is telling the truth, then he lacks the basic good judgment to be in the United States Senator. Either way, it’s time for him to go." Graham's not the only conservative to say so, either.

If Craig did resign, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter would appoint a replacement. An early-early thought on that: Don't look to the upper ranks of elected officials for his choice. But let's hang on a bit; Craig may pause to test the waters, check for reaction. What reaction he gets around Idaho may help determine his next moves.

ALSO Conservative writer Hugh Hewitt on Craig: "I don't believe him. Read the statement by the arresting officer. He must think the people of Idaho are idiots. But even if I did believe him, this would make his judgment too flawed to be in the United States Senate in a time of war. He has to go."