THE BLOG

Buggers Can't Be Choosers

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET
  • Gloria Feldt Author, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power

Oh, how I wish I'd said that first. But though the quip's origin is often attributed to Winston Churchill -- as are most great lines -- it was apparently British writer and academic Cecil Maurice Bowra who said it first, to explain his engagement to a "plain girl" named Audrey Beecham.

Sexism be damned, I sincerely doubt I will be the last to cite this clever turn of phrase each time poor beleaguered Sen. Larry Craig (R-Wide Stance, to quote another great phrasemeister, former Rep. Sam Coppersmith, D-AZ) flashes onto our news screen. Craig's seems to be the story that just won't die, much to the chagrin of his Republican leadership. Kind of like those groundhogs, headlines just keep popping up all over, their incessantly high-pitched chatter mocking the holier-than-thou's who have a headlock on the party of their choice.

That's the same party that wants to deny reproductive choice to others, by the way.

The rest of us like to act as though we really don't care that much about Craig's sexual proclivities. But his little toe-tap wouldn't have become such a big story unless we cared about it -- a lot.

So when Craig announced today that he will stay in Congress despite the Minnesota district court's ruling that he can't withdraw the guilty plea he entered after being "stung" in the now-enshrined Minneapolis airport men's restroom-cum-tourist destination, the groundhogs immediately reared their little heads and began chattering away again.

I suspect Larry Craig will come out of this just fine eventually, as did Bowra. In fact, Bowra became the head of Wadham College and in 1992 a building was even named for him there. Meanwhile, he continued to supply us with a steady stream of quotables. On hearing of the marriage of a well-known literary pair, for example, he snipped, "Splendid couple -- [I] slept with both of them."

But then though the British love their sex scandals as much as we do, they tend to regard them as entertainment rather than political morality lessons. Until we in the USA come to terms with the fact that sexuality is part of every human being's life and develop a healthier relationship with sex, we will continue to spend way too much of the GNP on hiring plainclothes cops to track down gay men, even if they have to lure them into action in order to establish their sexual orientation.

Perhaps buggers can't be choosers. But as a body politic, Americans can choose to spend our time and resources making sure everyone has healthcare, bringing an unworthy war to an end, and transforming abstinence-only sex education classes into medically accurate and comprehensive ones, rather than allowing our political agenda to be led by those who have an obsession with Larry Craig's -- and everyone else's -- sex life.