I wholeheartedly agree with Mark’s sharp-eyed identification of Senator Craig’s potential abuse of power. But I disagree that the rest of the story is basically a yawn.
The point isn’t that Craig is a hypocrite, although that is true. It is that he is a hypocrite who is using his hypocrisy to oppress a vulnerable segment of the population. Larry Craig and the rest of the Republicans could have played by the Marquess of Queensbury rules concerning Clinton’s affair, and it would still be a worthwhile story to point out their hypocrisy, because it would also point out the absurdity of their public position. That’s more than “the sad consequences of family values homophobia;” it points out how ridiculous family values homophobia is.
The analogy, to my mind, is the revelation that Strom Thurmond had fathered a child out-of-wedlock with an African-American. Thurmond actually was not one to spend a lot of time attacking his opponents sexual behavior, at least not in his Senatorial incarnation. He was probably too addled to criticize Bill Clinton. But he did use the most unconscionable and egregious race-baiting and fear of “racial mixing” in his campaign.
Put another way, if Craig actually did what the police report states (and the evidence seems a little weak to me, although it is similar to much evidence used in solicitation cases), it isn’t private behavior. It is public behavior because Larry Craig wants it to be public behavior. He wants it to be public behavior because he is a bigot, and wants bigotry enshrined as American public law.
That’s hardly a surprise, but it is newsworthy.
UPDATE: Several readers have pointed out that the reference to the Marquess of Queensbury rules is about as ironic as you can get. I had always thought of the nobleman as just as an eccentric who promulgated some modern rules about boxing, but as it turns out, he also was a 19th-century gay-baiter, who outed Oscar Wilde and started the legal proceedings that landed Wilde in jail (or more accurately, gaol). So in point of actual fact, on this issue, the GOP really does follow the Marquess of Queensbury rules–which are the opposite of their popular connotation. Life imitates art.