29 August 2007
"I Am Not Gay. I Never Have Been Gay."
That, folks, is a direct quote from United States Senator Larry Craig (R-ID). He gave a press conference yesterday after news broke that he'd been arrested in June for lewd conduct in a men's airport bathroom. During the news conference Craig's wife stood by his side but never said a word. She could have been a Tussaud during parts of the conference she was so still.
Although we all like to say politicians are stupid, for the most part they aren't. But they are deeply self-interested and yearn for power, and when they face the prospect of losing that power because of something stupid they did--and even the best of us do stupid things--that's when they really pull out the stupid gun and fire randomly into the crowd. What, exactly, was the other option Craig was mulling saying at the press conference? "I am not gay. I was gay, once. It was a Thursday, I think. But I got over it by the afternoon." Give me a break. More after the jump.
Of course the arrest was basically for soliciting another man. Craig pleaded guilty, back in June, but now says that was a mistake and wished he'd plead not guilty; he says he only plead guilty because he thought that would make it go away. Okay, there's stupid point number two. Did he actually think pleading guilty to a lesser charge of lewd conduct would somehow make the charge "go away?" Really? So then he is an idiot.
Note please that Craig denies being gay, as if that is wrong, but makes an excuse for his restroom behavior, as if soliciting a blow job in the Minneapolis airport bathroom is okay. The only apology he made is that he regretted pleading guilty... "because I am not gay." So... wait. He regrets pleading guilty because he's not gay. If, on the other hand, he were gay, he would not regret pleading guilty because... uh... gay people are automatically guilty? This guy is so far out in left field he's eating the fans' hot dogs. Yes, that's what I said. To quote Wonkette's liveblog of the Larry Craig press conference (it's on YouTube, it's a thing of beauty), Craig believes "His mistake was actually taking responsibility, however briefly, for his loathsome bathroom behavior." Oh, and he also blames the entire thing on a newspaper in Boise.
Craig wants to stay in the Senate. There are "still goals [he wants] to accomplish" in the Senate... presumably not involving Senate pages, but who knows. He hopes the people of Idaho will allow him to continue to serve. But, it looks like it's already a little late for that. 55% of Idaho voters in a SurveyUSA poll said Craig should resign. Oops! Sorry.
Sadly, the real problem here is that Craig did very little that any of us would even recognize as wrong. Here's the arrest report. I'll defer to the cop who's been on this detail before and so presumably knows "the signals" people give when they want to get down and dirty in the stalls. But as I read this... well, Craig is certainly engaging in some weird behavior, but nothing I as a private citizen would have understood or cared about. So what we're really getting at here is that Craig, a noted "family values" guy who is anti-gay-marriage and anti-gay-adoption and just about everything else anti-gay there is to be, went and apparently solicited another man for sex of some sort. It would have been private and consensual and, though probably in the restroom, most of us everyday travelers probably wouldn't have been aware it was going on. Should people be arrested or prosecuted for that? No. It's Western Judeo-Christian sexual Puritanism at its worst. But Larry Craig is one of those people who helped create a climate and the legal framework to declare the very thing he was doing illegal. So it's only right he should be taken down by it--hoist on his own petard, as they say, though no one knows what a petard is anymore (a siege weapon used for destroying castle gates; the phrase was coined in Hamlet).
One last thing before I go. You must go see this fun short clip on YouTube of our hero Larry Craig discussing the impeachment scandal back in 1999. In text what he says is bad enough: "It's a, 'Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You're a naughty boy.' The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy." But you have to go see this, check out the little wry smile of longing that starts to creep in the second time he says Bill Clinton is a Bad Boy. Oh the yearning... oh the closeted homophobic homosexual...
Okay, one more last thing. The quote about not being gay is being misreported everywhere as "I have never been gay." In fact he says "I never have been gay." Maybe it's code. Maybe he has arthritis but nothing to treat it with, and he was really saying "I never have Ben Gay." It wasn't a confession, it was a complaint. Somebody in the audience--maybe that guy who asks "What if you were gay" in the last seconds of the clip--should have given him some Aspercreme or something. Thus what he's really saying is that his hands hurt, and that while he was gay in the past (in the airport, for example), he isn't gay right now at the press conference. But maybe a little later in the bathroom of that building behind him...?