THE BLOG

Hold On, Larry!

09/05/2007 01:08 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dear Larry Craig,

I'm so happy that Arlen Specter has come out swinging. (I want to say right now that "come out" and "swinging" are not puns. Specter is in your corner: my metaphor is strictly the manly art of self-defense, as defined by the Marquess of Queensberry -- the same guy, incidentally, who called Oscar Wilde a "Somdomite," but that's just a coincidence. There are no intentional puns in this piece, although, given the furtive adolescent nature of most sexual discussion in the United States, puns are almost impossible to avoid, as you yourself know by bitter experience. "I want to thank all of you for coming out today," you told the reporters at the beginning of your press conference. See what I mean? Now I notice that even the title of my piece is suspect, but what can we do. All I can say is that I am not a punster, I never HAVE been a punster.)

Anyway, Specter is a bright guy with a deep understanding of the Constitution and the laws of the land, a man who knows the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, innocent and guilty, even if all his understanding and knowledge are necessarily more theoretical than practical, given his party registration. But knowing the Patriot Act is unconstitutional counts for something, doesn't it, even if you vote for it. Right?

Specter sounded terrific -- like a pit bull -- when he defended you, so brave and ferocious I couldn't help wishing he was over in Baghdad, defending me. Anyway, he's here and he's determined to prevent some wishy-washy judge from coming to the absurd conclusion that you are guilty of anything, especially anything you've already sworn you are guilty of. That's a job for a sharp lawyer, and that's Arlen Specter. It's so good to see him fully engaged as a Man of Principle, having found an issue he can commit himself to, brain and heart and conscience. He thinks you have a pretty good case, and I do too! He thinks you should come out swinging! Boy, do I agree with him! I wanted to tell you this a few days ago -- you have a lot more support on the Huffington Post than you realize - -but I was too busy to write and then I had to go out of town and all the time all your Republican pals were piling on, and I didn't manage to get word to you before you announced your intention to resign, which, I have to say, broke my heart. Really, a lot of us were more than depressed at the appalling sight of a good old man going down.

But you are reconsidering your announced intention to resign, so I am full of new hope and seizing the day: hold on, Larry!

Don't be a patsy. (I almost wrote "nancy," isn't that silly? "Don't be a nancy." Some of our worst impulses do not spring up out of our conscious minds, that's all there is to it.) So -- don't be a PATSY! Don't roll over for those treacherous fair-weather Foley hush-ups and Vitter applauders. Dig in your heels. You have always been a most reliable water-carrier in your party's unjust causes: carry your own water, for once, in your own just cause. I had originally hoped that your toughness of mind and refusal to compromise on matters of principle might keep this story going for a week or two, but I underestimated you! You're not going to cut or run, even in a restroom. You can keep this going for months, years. And we're with you, so many of us are with you! Remember that you are not just fighting for your own job and reputation, or for Idaho's right to hold its own erection and do whatever it wants with its own seat. No -- you, Senator Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho (that noble appellation cannot be repeated too often) are defending the most fundamental of all Republican principles: the sacred right to preach one thing and do another!

Hold on, Larry, and what a blow you will strike for truth, justice, the American way, and the two-party system. Now is no time to fidget your fingers or let your wrist go limp! Hold on!

I've also been thinking about possible defenses, though of course Arlen will know more about this sort of thing than I do. (I mean as a lawyer and former prosecutor, of course -- what did you think I meant, you bad, naughty boy, you nasty boy?) And I've come up with a defense you may not have thought of. It's a hard sell, but it might adapt itself very nicely to the special circumstances of your position, give or take the exact configuration of your position. When Representative Richard Kelly (R-FL; or as Fox News might put it, "D-FL"; except that R is what he actually was) -- anyway, when Republican Representative Kelly was caught stuffing cash bribes in the amount of $25,000 into his pockets (the money was handed to him by sassy FBI whippersnappers a lot like that damned but cute Minneapolis cop), GOP leader Kelly told an NBC News interviewer that it was all a big misunderstanding: he was conducting his own investigation. Pay attention, Larry! Why did Reagan-stalwart Kelly take the Abscam sting money? Because, he said, "I didn't want to blow my cover." Right! Beautiful! He even spent some of that cash, he said, so the bad people he was investigating would trust him.

Here's how I see it. You were conducting your own investigation. You have always loved the great state of Minnesota, you are in and out of the Minneapolis airport all the time, you heard the ugly rumors about public nuisances in a men's room that had become, over time, very important to you -- a kind of home-away-from-home. So you volunteered, and you created your own surge -- you were ready to give all you had till you could hear somebody cry out, "Wow, Larry! Mission Accomplished!" An expense of spirit in the waste of that men's room? Sure, but there was some hard work to do -- not too hard for you -- and you have always been a stay-the-course kind of guy, if I can trust the Idaho
Statesman
. Did you tap your foot? Sure you did! Did you fidget your fingers? Of course you did! You had to. You didn't want to blow your cover, or anything else, so help you the God on whose shoulder your president so frequently cries. The Murdochs of the world will want to know how far beyond a little tapping and fidgeting you were prepared to go to get your man (you always get your man, don't you, like a Mountie; I think of you as a kind of Mountie) -- how far you were prepared to go is between you and God and Arlen, I guess.

I thought of another possible defense, too, but I don't recommend it. Voltaire, passing through that same airport, once darted into that restroom and kept his valet waiting a long, long time. When the philosopher breezed out, his eyes twinkling, his stance a little wider, he promised his poor servant that he wouldn't take so long on the return trip, using a line you yourself might use, if you could toss it off like Voltaire, insouciantly, with a wink and a big smile and that easy, cosmopolitan grace. (Whatever you do, don't hit that loud note of whiny irritation, like you did in your press conference.) When you say Voltaire's line, pretend you're William F. Buckley, or at least Tony Snow. I'm worried about your delivery. I suspect you're better at giving than taking. Direction, I mean. Anyway, here's Voltaire's line, the explanation of why he had taken so long in that men's room the first time, but wouldn't do it again. "Once a philosopher," he said, "twice a pervert."

I'm a little uneasy about how such a charming, sophisticated defense will play in Coeur d'Alene or Clark Fork, or anywhere else, really. Don't say it. It will just make everybody mad.