The state of play - in this game most people thought had ended Saturday morning - over Senator Larry Craig is, if anything, intensifying. It is probably a lesser deal now for the talk show comics, but it has become more intriguing - by orders of magnitude - as a matter of politics.
What handicaps any evaluation is that we don't yet know what the end game for the central player - Craig himself - is supposed to look like; we can only guess. (Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman made that point in his blog today.) But we can speculate that it is evolving. And his role is crucial. Having lawyered up, and having an objective that remains obscure, he is driving this thing now, just as - a week ago - he was being bashed into the ground, in the couple of days after the Roll Call report about his men's room arrest and guilty plea in Minneapolis.
Last Tuesday, when he delivered his first (widely panned) defiant press conference, Craig was being buried under; he was entirely on defense, and the Alamo had been breached. He seemed and probably was at that point still in a mode somewhere between panic and shock, and probably thought that his friends and allies would help him through this. And then they did not - they joined the attacking the forces, led the attacking the forces.
Somewhere around last Wednesday or maybe Thursday, Craig began to come around and think strategically. And since then he has reversed position with his assailants in the Senate Republican caucus - he is consciously executing an extensive and complex strategic plan, while his one-time allies are being thrown back into confusion and panic mode. You get the sense, in sifting through the quotes from Republicans in Washington, that he can't be doing this. A pertinent quote following today's Republican Senate Policy Committee (which Craig once chaired), from an unnamed senator: "If he has the [courage] to fight this, then the least he could do is come here and feel the heat we're feeling." As an expression of mood, that one seems to tell it all.
True: Craig may resign at any point, including September 30; and we don't need to re-recite here why that may happen. You could even call it probable. But there are alternatives, and we don't really know right now toward which of them Craig is headed.
Let's review the sequence, and see what that suggests.