MEDIA
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Larry Craig Fiasco Demonstrates Widespread Lack of Perspective

Remember when Larry Craig said he was going to resign from the Senate over the disorderly conduct charge he got slapped with after allegedly cruising the Minneapolis airport bathroom for a bit of the old "love that dares not speak its name?" Maybe you don't! Because even though one "GOP aide" complained that "The American people heard from Larry Craig that he would resign," that little bit of political pageantry happened on a Saturday, and, as it did not occur on the field during the first quarter of the Notre Dame game, a good many "American people" might have missed it. Which was, of course, by design.

But, smack dab in the middle of Wednesday morning, Craig offered an immediate about face, announcing that he was instead going to seek "the dismissal of a Senate ethics committee complaint...and relayed word that he will resign his seat only if he fails to withdraw a guilty plea stemming from an airport men's room sex sting by Sept. 30."

And you know what? Craig actually has a point where the ethics committee is concerned: "Craig's lawyers appealed to the ethics committee to dismiss the complaint against him, saying it stemmed merely from personal conduct, and did not relate to his official duties."

We wondered when this might come up. It does not appear that Craig's arrest and the personal sexual proclivities (that he may or may not have) that (may or may not have) led to his arrest have adversely impacted the American people in any significant way. Craig's arrest occurred in June, so he's backed up by two months of service in the Senate, and during that time there is no record that indicates he was unable to carry out his official duties, or did so with any sort of diminished capacity of efficacy.

But when the news finally broke about his arrest, his own colleagues moved with significant speed and disturbing alacrity to exile him from the Senate. One would imagine that the swiftness of the opprobrium laid at Craig's feet would be worth noting, especially in connection to the way Craig's colleagues have responded to similar crises. But no one seems to have connected the dots, and considering the Larry Craig drama was playing out alongside the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall, that's unfortunate--the press passed on a golden opportunity to note a trenchant juxtaposition.

The historical record is pretty clear: two years ago, the people of New Orleans could have benefited greatly from the "speed and alacrity" that characterized the response to Craig's transgressions. Similarly, when one thinks about the way in which everyone took their sweet time getting around to helping the people of the Big Easy, one can't help but recall the way in which the Congress moved with quicksilver agility to intercede on behalf of Terri Schiavo. Now, that was an occasion that was apparently worth President Bush cutting short his vacation over! And the President made himself available at 1:11 a.m. to sign that piece of legislation. The same way he made himself available for a super-secret trip to Iraq after the GAO's report on Iraq benchmarks came out--never mind that the administration was more than content to let the benchmark shirking Iraqi government take a lengthy summer vacation! Certain events then, call for a swift response, while certain other events don't.

And, as the Larry Craig Melodrama is proving, certain events call for a fiercer rhetoric than others. Craig's good buddy Mitt Romney (who, as we noted earlier, Craig was serving in an official campaign capacity) disowned the Senator by calling his behavior "disgusting"--apparently, though, not in the same way most Americans would likely find liquidized feces from a terrified, roof-bound dog "disgusting." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell termed Craig's actions "unforgivable." Imagine that! Unforgivable! And yet, at this very moment, men like Scooter Libby and David Vitter* walk this earth, forgiven!

Of course, everything goes back to what Craig was allegedly up to in that Minneapolis bathroom, and specifically, how gay it was. And the fact that there's nothing to this story that should have engendered any of the swift condemnation or fierce rhetoric other than the homosexuality of it all ought to infuriate anyone who believes the country should be run according to sensible national priorities. Frankly, it remains indistinct what, exactly, Larry Craig even did wrong. If it is a crime to tap one's foot while simultaneously being possibly gay, then I daresay we'd need to intern, in large number, many of the fine Americans who work to bring us our Broadway entertainments. And then, what would Condoleezza Rice do to avoid assisting in disaster relief efforts?

Related:
Craig seeks dismissal of ethics case [AP]

*Ahh, David Vitter. If I wanted to be cynical, I'd say that he retains his seat only because, unlike Craig, he had the decency to humiliate himself with a member of the opposite sex. And if I wanted to be really, really cynical, I'd say he retains his seat only because, unlike Craig, his state has a Democratic governor.