With the corruption issue having weighed down some of their Congressional candidates in the disastrous 2006 elections, Senate Republicans saw Mr. Craig as inviting even heavier damage, especially on the heels of ethics cases involving two other Republican senators, David Vitter of Louisiana, who was the client of a dubious escort service, and Ted Stevens of Alaska, who faces a widening inquiry into whether he traded official favors.
So Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday sent a blunt message, a threat meant to have the effect achieved on Saturday afternoon, when Mr. Craig announced his resignation.
Mr. McConnell enlisted the junior Idaho senator, Michael D. Crapo, a fellow Republican who was close to Mr. Craig, to warn him that he would face excruciating public hearings into his conduct, similar to the threat raised by Democrats against former Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon, who was accused of sexual harassment.
No rallying round a private sinner who may or may not have received forgiveness from his god and his wife for Senator Craig--the prerequisite for that apparently being heterosexual conduct, felonious and kinky or no--but, instead, promises of a McCarthyite investigation. Does the same fate await the next senators or representatives to be outed?
I rather hope not, actually. How much more preferable it would be to see the GOP have to finally come clean about its private acceptance of its gay staffers, family members, and colleagues and stop playing Janus with a public face always smiling on the religious fundamentalist voting bloc that demands continued public excoriation of gay people. No, I'm not holding my breath on that one.
A straight friend commented over the weekend that she has absolutely no sympathy for the likes of Craig, contending that his position as a quite conservative legislator was wholly chosen by him, in complete contradiction to his personal nature. After all, she said, it's not likely that he rose to the Senate and suddenly noticed at age 50 that the guys in the hallway looked better than the women. I guess I tend to look at Craig, Allen, and whoever the next guy will be as sad object lessons on the personal costs levied by the Republican Party's being in thrall to the religious right. Should anyone have to forfeit their socially conservative, warmongering, anti-welfare cred just because they're attracted to peeps of their own gender? I don't think so.
Really throwing the need for the closet aside would probably only help the GOP in the long haul. Perhaps it only proves my status as a liberal pansy that it's a price I'm willing to incur if it means more people (read: all people) being allowed to live honestly.