Sunday, September 02, 2007

the craig resignation: principle or hypocrisy?

I don't have tremendous sympathy for Larry Craig, who was forced out as Idaho Senator he plead guilty to disorderly conduct following a sting operation in a Minnesota bathroom. But the affair leaves me troubled on several levels. Here goes:

1. What exactly was the offense that forced Craig to resign? It is surely not the case that anyone with a misdemeanor conviction is unfit for public office, and many in similar situations were in fact not removed. If the crime was being gay, as appears to be the case, then literally hundreds of public officeholders--including many of Craig's liberal critics--would have to leave office, as well. By contrast, if there's nothing wrong with being gay, what exactly is the basis for the resignation?

2. Some observers have tried to resolve the contradiction above by asserting that the problems was Craig's hypocrisy, since he opposed gay rights while appearing to practice the very behavior that he condemned. By extension of this logic, any liberal Democrat could practice gay, premarital, or even adulterous sex so long as they supported others who did so too; only conservative Republicans could be held accountable for personal scandals, which is indeed close to what is actually happening in Washington today. The arguments also misses the main point of the religious right, which is not that they are more moral than other people, but that they need religion precisely because they are not; although in fairness many conservative politicians tend to forget this, also.

3. The Republican Party's successful effort to throw Craig to the wolves, which is designed to demonstrate the party's new clean image, is in fact more likely to demonstrate its weakness, with voters drawing the appropriate conclusions.

I have been reading lately about the purges in Mao's China and Stalin's Russia, which I had thought to be far from our experience here. It is useful remembering that the great majority of people in Russia and China thought the victims had it coming. We may come to regret events of this nature in the future, as well.


At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to #1, I thought the crime was solicitation for sex. Not sure if it is a misdemeanor, but I am pretty sure I don't want my congressmen doing it.


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