Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Running Amok

I think the Larry Craig saga is important beyond the obvious hypocrisy and prurient spectacle. Craig, like David Vitter and Mark Foley, is a high-profile member of the president's own party. We currently have about 180,000 troops in two Islamic countries fighting for that president's vision of democracy. It's probably unrealistic to expect someone with a sexual interest in prostitutes, Capitol Hill pages, or strangers in public restrooms to understand this, but I think it's outrageous that these public officials -- advocates of president's own policy, and representatives of the system of government those troops are fighting and dying to build -- lack the perspective, prudence and minimum level of self-control that the country's most important endeavor demands. We don't need to spend any time discussing how this sort of conduct is perceived (and punished) in much of the Islamic world. Before we embark on the next adventure or offer more faux-Schumpeterian chaos to another grateful recipient, shouldn't we get our own house in order?

Those snickers you hear are echoing across Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus, and yes, Tehran. Democracy? American values? Yes, please!

More: In response to a commenter below, where in the post do I mention homosexuality? I think it's clear what part of Craig's conduct I object to. I'm basically a live-and-let-live person, and I make no judgment (and have no opinion) about Craig's sexual orientation. But as one of the most prominent public officials in the country, he's a de facto representative of the system at a particularly important time. And lewd conduct in a public place is a crime, whether it's homo or heterosexual-related.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the state of the credit/stock markets and the economy these days, how about one of your market commentaries in the very near future? Your insight is appreciated.

8/29/2007 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A page from the history of the fall of Rome

8/29/2007 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. I'm not sure what you're saying about Craig. Is homosexuality wrong? I don't think so. I confess I haven't followed the story very closely -- it seems to me that the story itself, the fact that it has become a story, is the ultimate sign of the debasement of our so-called political discourse. I would expound on the hypocrisy of it all but I really do believe that from the fundamentalist Christian pov, it is more heroic to wrestle with one's "demons" (and lose) than to live openly as a gay person (or whatever). Not to mention the fact that repressing one's desire makes giving in to it all that much more exciting and dramatic. Hence, the search for sex (presumably consensual) in public bathrooms.

I'm guessing that all this is beside the point. But, like I said, I'm not sure what the point is. I think it's much more reprehensible that the Republican Party continues to back the president on Iraq (and pretty much everything else) even though it's clear that the president is living in a fantasy world (to put it mildly).

8/29/2007 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what you're saying about Craig. Is homosexuality wrong?

I think it's pretty clear what CR is saying, and homosexuality has nothing to do with it. Look, the Senator's arrest seems pretty dicey on a lot of grounds (are the Twin Cities really well-served by police officers doing toilet stall stakeouts?). But you'd think a guy who aspires to lead 300 million people could keep his impulses in check for the length of a lay-over. Especially when said leadership caste seems to think that our sacred duty is to spread our way of life via F-15 and Abrams tank.
-- sglover

8/29/2007 1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it should be reprehensible that the GOP supports/advocates for homophobia/staying in The Closet.

While it is a salient point that Craig is "Old Gay Culture" (pre-Stonewall) v. New Gay Culture (Gay Marriage) it is important that the scandal welled up because he could not defend himself against the charges without ending his political career, which will now end anyway, it is more important that Republican homophobia will drive Craig out of office and party while Vitter gets hugs and so on--the GOP loves its hate speech and bigotry.

8/29/2007 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CR: You didn't mention homosexuality. I only asked you about it because I didn't understand the point of your original post. For what it's worth, I don't agree that what Craig actually did was a crime. I think the arresting officer was, in a word, overzealous. As to whether his conduct was lewd, well, that's somewhat less clear, I guess.

In the end, I think it's a shame that sex-related stories always get so much coverage, esp. since the Republican Party has become so morally bankrupt in so many more important ways. I don't mean to criticize CR for not covering this, mind you. But I just can't get all that worked up over individual "lewdness." I'd be more inclined to worry about the way our talk of freedom and human rights goes over, given our current leadership's love of torture and unauthorized wiretapping (among many other things).

I tried to post an earlier comment but it never showed up. Oh, well.

8/29/2007 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During the hoopla over Clinton, the U.S. was a laughingstock. This time around, America is more and more viewed as a pariah.

Marcy has some good thoughts on the moral decline of our "ruling class".


8/29/2007 7:45 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Why can't the press just leave him alone!

Come on, the poor guy was just minding his own business like this fellow:

8/30/2007 1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Specific men's toilets, become known for being gay pickup spots. Then they are often referred to as "T Rooms" by the gay community and can even be frequented by men looking for sex with no other business in the building they are in. It's not just spur of the moment behavior, certain bathrooms have reputations, and are visited specifically for that. I bet Senator Craig made a specific choice in using that facility.

These toilets may become known to police because of complaints from those who've received unwelcome advances. That's clearly what happened here and what prompted the stakeout that netted Sen. Craig.

Putting aside whether I think having sex in a bathroom is a big deal or not, (for the record I don't, but being a woman I don't have to deal with unwelcome advances in public bathrooms, although I do in many other places) the arrest makes all previous allegations that Craig is a closeted gay man much more credible.

There is a hypocrisy in being a closeted gay man who votes against gay marriage and civil unions. This is worth talking about because it's part and parcel of the "Do as the Bible says, not as we actually do" morality of the Republican party.

For the record, lot's of out gay men frequent bathrooms for liaisons but it's risky behavior. I guess if you are in the closet, married and a republican than it's extra risky. And that may be the appeal for Sen Craig.

8/30/2007 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, I think hypocrisy is something people see from the outside, but it's not the only aspect of the situation. It's more twisted than that. On the one hand you have a certain strain of Christianism that sees the struggle with sin as heroic -- all the more so because the struggler inevitably lapses into sin every once in a while. (Admittedly, the gay angle complicates things . . . Vitter seems to be more popular than ever these days, but I'm not sure this will happen for Craig . . .) People like Craig probably buy into the notion that homosexuality is immoral -- their hypocrisy might not be intentional, in other words. On the other hand, you have a political strategy on the part of Republicans to push for the abridgement of the civil rights of people who are deemed to be outcasts, which has the dual benefit of not abridging the rights of the in-group and strengthening the in-group's notion of itself as morally upright. (Notice how infrequently you hear about the evils of the no-fault divorce?)

On the third hand, you have to wonder whether we'd be hearing all these calls for Craig's resignation if Idaho had a Democratic governor.

8/30/2007 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you have to wonder whether we'd be hearing all these calls for Craig's resignation if Idaho had a Democratic governor."

In a word: no. Excellent observations, throughout.

8/31/2007 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the motto of the fascist - do as I say, not as I do.

I guess that is also the motto of the GOP.

Wave the flag and talk patriatic trash, but do not serve in the military.
Shove your extreme religious views into everybodies face, but keep not your marrage vows.
Grab as much loot as you can get away with and enrich your poor corporations and wealthy friends because they never have enough.
And do not forget to rape the environment because only the wealth you can rip and rape from the land is patriatic.

9/03/2007 12:49 PM  

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