God bless Larry Craig!

Looks as if we’re going to have him to kick around for another year or so. But it would be a disgrace if the Senate were to make his toe-tapping a basis for his expulsion. His attempt to abuse his power is a different matter.

For Democrats, it looks as if he’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving. Anyway, we can all use a good laugh right about now.

If the Senate Ethics Committee decides to hold hearings, I hope some Senator will have the nerve and the class to object to taking any testimony as to Sen. Craig’s amatory activities, either the ones leading to his Minneapolis arrest or any previous ones. They have nothing to do with his official duties. Yes, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Does anyone really believe that a Senator convicted of, let’s say, drunk and disorderly conduct ought to have to give up his seat as a result? If not, what’s all the shootin’ fer?

On the other hand, were Craig expelled for trying to use his official position to intimidate a police officer, I’d be all for it. Again, I doubt that’s a precedent his colleagues really want to live with, but I number that unwillingness among their faults, not among their virtues.

Footnote Of course, if testimony is taken about the Senator’s toe-tapping he will no doubt lie, and the lie will then become a legitimate basis for his expulsion. But that doesn’t justify asking the irrelevant question in the first place.

Second footnote Jonathan Zasloff argues that Craig’s public gay-baiting makes his private conduct a legitimate public issue. I’m not persuaded, but you might be.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com