I hadn’t planned on writing any more about the Senator Craig incident after my earlier post this week. However, watching events as they’ve unfolded, I’ve decided that the hypocrisy of the Republican party is worthy of analysis. They’re engaged in the type of behavior I hate the most: holier-than-thou finger pointing.
To be clear, this blog is not about politics per se. In fact, I do not identify myself as either Republican or Democrat. This blog is about the way people use words to spread ideas, both good and bad. In this instance, I’m disgusted by the rhetoric that’s filled the airwaves and newspapers. While I expressed my earlier disappointment with the way Craig chose to handle the situation, I saw no need for him to resign.
Odds were high he planned to announce his retirement next month. I saw little value in holding this man’s feet over the fire. His reputation, in spite of several decades of solid public service, is destroyed. His family has endured scrutiny that would make even the toughest of souls cringe. On top of that, there’s enough he said/he said between the officer and the senator that I doubt anyone will know exactly what happened, in spite of Craig’s guilty plea.
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, made my job incredibly easy with her wrap up of Republican hypocrisy:
“Senator Ted Stevens maintains his position on the Appropriations Committee despite being the subject of a major criminal investigation, including an FBI raid on his Alaska home and Senator David Vitter maintains his assignments despite admitting to the crime of soliciting a prostitute.”
Sloan noted that in response to CREW’s calls for Sen. Stevens to step down from his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee where he has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice’s budget, Senate Minority Leader Mitchell McConnell demurred, defending Sen. Stevens. Sloan continued, “A disorderly conduct plea requires a member to give up his committee assignment, but a full-fledged bribery investigation does not. Apparently, in the view of the Republican conference there is almost nothing more serious than a member attempting to engage in gay sex.”
“For consistency’s sake, Senators Stevens and Vitter should both be forced to give up their committee assignments as well.” (link)
I’m inclined to agree with Sloan—it takes more than a garden-variety sex scandal to shock Republicans. But indicate the two parties are of the same gender and watch the calls for resignation fly around the Capital.
I’m still shaking my head over Craig’s behavior, but you’re telling me his disorderly conduct charge isn’t trumped by Vitter’s solicitation of a prostitute? I have a theory about why you’ve heard calls for Craig’s resignation versus Vitter’s.
Louisiana’s current governor is a Democrat. If Vitter resigned, it’s certain Gov. Kathleen Blanco would appoint a Democrat replacement, further shifting power in the Senate to the Democrats. I suspect Republicans would also claim that Vitter’s transgression happened prior to taking his Senate seat. However, to the best of my knowledge, he was an elected U.S. Representative. The same rules don’t apply because there were no criminal charges filed?
However, Idaho is a solidly Republican state, with a Republican governor. Lawmakers risk nothing by expressing their “righteous indignation” over Craig’s behavior. Should they browbeat him into retiring before his term expires, a Republican will replace him in the Senate. Regardless of the rationale used to justify Vitter’s and Stevens’ behavior, the outrage of politicians like Sens. McCain and Coleman appears a little less than genuine when one considers these circumstances.
Politicians have a crappy reputation for a reason. Enough of them keep proving the stereotype true. My biggest disappointment with Craig wasn’t the supposed bathroom antics, it’s what happened afterwards. I’m more disturbed by the officer’s report that Craig pulled out a business card identifying him as a senator and then implied that somehow made him “special.” That’s an abuse of power I refuse to tolerate from any elected official. You may write the laws. That doesn’t place you above them.
So here’s to the Republicans for taking potshots at an easy target and avoiding the real “evil-doers” among their ranks. My hats off to you for making me even more disgusted with the American political system than usual. I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend.