Aug 13, 2020

Senator’s looming resignation will be the result of shame

THE END OF the month is fast approaching, and with only days to go before Senator Larry Craig’s announced date of resignation, I’ve been considering how his saga might translate well to the stage.

Consider the trajectory of the story: Craig, a longtime opponent of gay rights and defender of “family values,” was arrested in June for soliciting sex from an undercover officer in the men’s room of a Minneapolis airport. He was later charged with disorderly conduct, an allegation to which the senator pleaded guilty to in early August.

On Aug. 27, “Roll Call,” a publication based out of Capitol Hill which serves primarily politicians in the area, announced Craig’s arrest and guilty plea.

Several days later, Craig announced his intent to resign at the end of September, though a spokesman for the senator later announced that Craig would not resign if the court overturned his charge.

On Sept. 10, the senator, who still publicly defends both his innocence and his heterosexuality, submitted a motion to withdraw his initial guilty plea.

Within a short period of time, Senator Craig both admitted guilt and proclaimed his innocence; announced both his resignation and his intent to stay in office. This sort of waffling belies the bigger issue—these are the last moves of a desperate man.

And why shouldn’t he be? With 30 years of experience under his belt, the man clearly found his calling in trying to keep some couples from gaining legitimate legal and social standing, among other senatorial duties.

A week from last Monday, Craig received some unexpected support from the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization traditionally aligned with more liberal values. The ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief in Craig’s favor, believing the arrest of the senator may well have been unconstitutional. The senator has also assembled a legal team.

Should Craig resign? As a registered Democrat and a proponent of gay rights, I’d normally jump at the chance to call for the resignation of lawmaker whose ideals stand in such stark contrast to my own. Simultaneously, I’m finding it hard not to sympathize with Craig. I’m tempted to side with the ACLU, but more than that, I’m a bit dismayed how the whole situation has played out.

If Craig ultimately resigns, he will have, effectively, been shamed into doing so. Left out to dry by his GOP colleagues, Craig’s story has a vaguely familiar, vaguely theatrical ring to it.

Et tu, McCain?

And as much as I’d like to see the senator make his retreat back to the private sector, I’m stuck wondering: is this how it should happen?

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