Larry Craig Should Seek Counsel from Former Senator Alan Simpson


Larry Craig won’t be Idaho’s Senator after September 30th.  He made his resignation announcement today.

There has been a lot of ridicule of Craig in the last several days — much of which was deserved given his well-preened anti-gay persona, but now he’s out. He’s terminated one of the big contradictions in his life.  Now he has others he’ll have to deal with.

Two things come to mind immediately after hearing his decision to resign. 

First, I am reposting Tom Toles‘ cartoon again — particularly in commemoration of Andrew Sullivan’s and Aaron Tone’s wedding last Monday.  The Republican moderates — the "main streeters" — should use this opportunity to unwind their party’s ridiculous objections to broader institution building (read: marriage) between committed same sex couples.


Toles (c) 2007 The Washington Post. Used by permission of Universal
Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.

Second, there are a lot of people living dual lives.  When those lives finally clash, the answer is not ridicule — but rather compassion.  Larry Craig has to sort this out — but so do many, many others who have more than one track defining who they are.

Craig will soon be a former Senator.  I recommend he go spend time with one of the most enlightened Republican Senators on these subjects, Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who has done a lot of thinking about the gap between straight and gay worlds, particularly the political dimensions and all of the variations of identity between "gay" and "straight".

Simpson is one of the best counselors and friends Larry Craig could reach out to right now.

— Steve Clemons


21 comments on “Larry Craig Should Seek Counsel from Former Senator Alan Simpson

  1. Chris says:

    Steve, there’s a *fundamental* difference between people making fun of Larry Craig for being gay (the people who’ve been hustling him out of office sure think that’s his problem, as even *he* still does), and people making fun of Larry Craig for being a humongous freaking hypocrite because he was such a panty-sniffer during the Clinton impeachment trial and a staunch conservative vote for all kinds of homophobic policy and legislation during his decades in Congress.
    You can be as compassionate as you want (christ, *there*’s a Democratic gene as indestructible as it is destructive, the one that says, “if the tables were turned, I’d want someone to be nice to me,” even while you’re dealing with Republicans who *never* think like that in political battles). But don’t tell us our ridicule for Larry-Craig-the-hypocrite-in-denial isn’t well-earned… especially when it’s not even clear Larry Craig “will soon be a former senator.”
    I know we all feel bad beating a dead horse, but there’s a bit of a difference between *beating* a *dead* horse, and *looking* at a *live* horse and *thinking* we’ve made sure of its status. Democrats are *awfully* good at the latter, with predictable results, which usually involve the equivalent of looking back and saying, “Hey, didn’t we all think that horse was dead?” as it gallops off, safe and alive.


  2. Donald from Hawaii says:

    Steve Clemons; “… the answer is not ridicule but compassion.”
    I disagree. In Sen. Craig’s case, the answer is ridicule, and with a heaping helping of contempt and scorn to go along with it.
    I have very little, if any, compassion for loudmouthed judgmental bigots like Idaho’s hypocritical Sen. Low-Spark-of-High-Heeled-Boys, whose well-voiced and documented lack of compassion toward gays and lesbians, minorities, Democrats, etc., has done so much to poison the national atmosphere and preclude rational political dialogue between citizens.
    Mr. Craig, deeply closeted little Miss that he is, has never been part of the gay community, and from the defiant sound of statement the other day, which was indicative of his complete lack of candor and contrition, he never will be. I say to hell with him, and any other gay homophobes and bigots who willfully project their sexual hang-ups and insecuties upon the people around them.


  3. rich says:

    We should all thank the Honorable Senator for his gift to the lexicon. Yes, I speak of The Larry Craig Gambit:
    “I regret pleading guilty.”
    I plan to use it at every opportunity, whether scolded or charged, whether I’ve actually pled to anything, appropriate or not. I suggest we all do the same–it needles the Craig-Republican attitude towards the Fourth Amendment, and helps put the lie to the assumption all of us are guilty of something, all the time.
    Lemme throw a Huge Grain-o’-Salt onto the OT post at 3:05; altogether too much saber rattling from the adults in the Oval Office. Updating Ronald Reagan; Retract, but verify.
    POA: I’ll take a newly appointed state-level Idaho Repubican over Senator Craig, any day. The Republican base is more disaffected than the MSM lets on, much better chance he/she won’t be in ideological lockstep with and beholden to Bush/Cheney.
    (Why? When Cheney shot his lawyer pal in the face he instantly lost an enormous chunk of Republican respect/support among the rural hook-&-bullet crowd. They knew instantly he hadn’t handled it forthrightly, that he wasn’t a sportsman or hunter, and they didn’t want him viewed as one of their own; didn’t want him representing them. While I extrapolate a bit, it was a watershed moment.)
    POA: But, didn’t you hear Senator Craig say he had “a wide stance”?


  4. Steve Clemons says:

    Nice set of responses up there.
    Two quick responses on items above. When I said “Now he’s out” I didn’t mean “Now he’s out of the gay closet (or bathroom stall)” — I meant “Now he’s out of the Senate and has no vote on the policy course of gay Americans”. Sorry for the confusion about that. I see how it can be read the other way — and it was a bit of a slip. But I meant he was out of the Senate — not that he was out of the closet as a gay person and dealing with those personal issues….though I hope he does.
    On the question about Alan Simpson — No, I don’t feel he is gay. But I feel that he is a stunningly good example of what we might eventually hope for from straight gay Republicans who work closely with the gay community on rights issues. Alan Simpson has thought through the gap between his party’s position on gay issues and the gay world. He’s someone Larry Craig would benefit from speaking to.
    best — and thanks for the smart posts above.
    Steve Clemons


  5. JHM says:

    Rich: “It’s part of a pattern, the tactic being: ‘Ohh, you caught us; I’ll go if I haaaave to’; and then they stick around as long as possible ANYway. Continuing teh malfeasance.”
    I wish I’d said that. Part of being a good Rove-style is having no shame about anything. And then it’s go f___ yourself, just for good measure.


  6. rich says:

    That makes two Senators clinging hypocritically to power.
    If both owned up and got out of town, the Senate would be incrementally improved and the country on much sounder footing.
    David Vitter’s wife really didn’t win any points by begging the media, posturing as the hurt and long-suffering wife, to consider their feelings and respect their privacy, during this difffficult time.
    These people want all the benefits of partisanship, intolerance and centrism–AND all the benefits of bi-partisan collegiality, forgiveness, and moderation. Why should we have consideration for a family which eagerly destroyed another family and shredded national unity for partisan advantage?
    I’ve got all the compassion in the world for Mrs. Senator Vitter. That doesn’t mean the same David Vitter who went after Clinton for political gain, demanding he resign, should not suffer the same press coverage, condemnation, and pressure to resign that Clinton did.
    I have no desire to replay the Ken-Starr-as-Arthur-Dimmesdale scenario we went through with Clinton over the next guy’s sexual oddities.
    But make no mistake: the hypocrite looking for partisan blood over personal matters is Ten Times the Bad Apple than the man with a personal flaw or sin is. They have no ompunction about the heavy costs to the country and to fellow cititzens. They’re open to blackmail and coercion. They practice an intolerance that contradicts America’s foundational principles. And absent those principles, they cannot act in the best interest of America or the American people.
    The loser here is centrism. If centrism is TOO FLEXIBLE to demand the immediate exit of David Vitter and Larry Craig, then does it share the principles that established the common good and formed a more perfect union? THIS is the time to act on those values. If centrism is TOO RIGID to listen to ‘values-voters’ on both the left and the right on this, then that flaw is fatal to the claims of centrism and belie the value of its supposed moderation.
    The test for Washington Establishment Centrists is here, and it is now. Will it be a substantive response to demands for redress of grievances, from citizens in general and in “Flyover Land” in particular? Or will it be: go along to get along, best not to quibble about principle, let’s make a deal, wouldn’t want to offend, and the Constitution is not viable politically?
    My Disclaimer: I’ve got enormous respect for D.C. employees that act in good faith. I refuse to stop believing that good people of principle aren’t doing their best, or won’t prevail. This blog inclusiveness and approach is but one example. At some point, though, principle and politics must rear up and call such men as Craig and Vitter to account. The country will be in a better position to do the same to Bush and Cheney. Or is that not the point?


  7. WhatAboutHisPoorWife says:

    We live in the most open society ever in history where people care more about the honesty and integrity of a person than their choice of bed partners.
    Why deceive others and involve them in matters such as this without their consent?
    Mrs. Craig now must suffer a thousand fears going through her mind all because Mr. Craig couldn�t come to terms with who and what he is.
    Mrs. Craig may now die of disease depending on his indiscretions in his sexual behavior.
    Additionally, she will now have to suffer the emotional trauma of knowing that whom she married used her as a pawn, a beard, and an excuse to not face his authentic self.
    We all know that people practice this kind of deceit each and every day affecting those who love them but the fact never fails to sadden me deeply.
    From a political perspective I could not have any faith in someone who can’t even be honest to the one person who supported him the most.
    If he can deceive his poor wife and family, what chance would any of his political followers have of being dealt with fairly in any dealings?


  8. rich says:

    It is possible to have compassion for Craig–AND demand that his “resignation” be effective immediately.
    It raises the question of what Bush has in store between now and the end of September.
    Richard Perle’s “resignation” from the Defense Policy Board due to blatant conflict of interest, turned out later to be, not a resignation at all. Perle had resigned ONLY as Chair of the DPB, remaining on the Board until–you guessed it–much more of the neocon dirty work had been performed. Only much, much later did he actually leave. Perle’s conflict of interest remained operant all that time. After the news broke.
    It’s part of a pattern, the tactic being: ‘Ohh, you caught us; I’ll go if I haaaave to’; and then they stick around as long as possible ANYway. Continuing teh malfeasance. As though no one notices. It’s obvious as hell and a continuation of the original betrayal.
    The worst aspect to this is the lax attitude of social & official Washington culture. Craig got nailed; but he wants to sit on his perch and keep wielding power anyway. Establishment D.C. thinks this is A-OK. Uh-uh. Not after vitriolic witch-hunts going the other way.
    Also: Compassion for Larry Craig does not entail FAILURE to holding Craig accountable for the anti-gay agenda he’s carried out in lockstep with hard right-wing conservatives. That intolerance runs counter to the American and to the Christian tradition. It’s cost the nation much in terms of abuse of power; I’ll spare you the list, but Iraq and the economy top the list.
    The tolerance & forgiveness embraced by centrists and Dems only seem a disadvantage; it never entails that intolerant haters will not/should not pay the price of their own scapegoating politics. Tolerance and (real/liberal) Christianity should NEVER mean we get taken to the cleaners, even when we catch a corrupt hypocrite like Larry Craig and evict him from office.
    Compassion, sure. It’s what we do as Americans. But whatever George W. Bush does during September will be aided and abetted by Larry Craig remaining in office. Craig’s continued occupation of that seat in the Senate will help the US continued occupation of Iraq.
    NOW is the time to insist Craig leave office immediately. Anyone who natters indulgently, but doesn’t insist on the Honorable Senator’s immediate exit, will be partly responsible for Bush’s malfeasance in September–whatever form that may take.


  9. Sandy says:

    tee hee hee Gay sex! Bathroom sex! Whoaaa! A senator??? Awww…. his wife…. Awww…..
    Any news on Anna Nichol??? Dannilynn?? Lindsey Lohan??? Britney Spears??? Paris Hilton’s dogs????
    Any sexy stuff??? Are Paris’ dogs having sex??? doing dooty???
    Oops! Sorry! Off topic!
    hee hee sex…..footsie….bathroom stall….what to say….is he done? feel sorry??? (puke, puke, puke)
    I donated to this blog???


  10. JHM says:

    In spite of myself, I do feel a small amount of compassion for this jerk. Kind of. I grew up in a part of Oregon that was/is culturally indistinguishable from Idaho. When I was in high school we tormented anyone who was known (or thought) to be queer. The fact that there was a KNOWN LESBIAN in town was a source of endless gossip and sheer wonder. So yeah, I can shed half a tear for this total right-wing tool and hypocrite.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The Republicans lose nothing by discarding Craig. Another Republican will take his place, so no seats are lost. Unlike the Vitter siotuation, where Vitter’s ouster could well cost them a seat, which explains the polar oppositersw in the Republican’s handling of the two similiar situations.
    And I would think that Craig’s “slow” departure is nothing more than a courtesy on the Republican’s part. He had to go, both Craig and his party realize this. But the Republicans score points by their timely demand for his resignation, whether or not his departure is as rapid or timely. No need to throw him out on his ear, they’ve already estasblished their “moral indignation”.
    Besides, he probably doesn’t have a huge schlong, like Jeff Gannon supposedly did. Hence, Craig is dispensable, poor guy.


  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, I really have a hard time having much compassion for Craig. Although Steve’s points about the tragedy of such a dual life are well taken, it is hard to have compassion for someone that trolls public restrooms, hetero or gay. There were many avenues open to him for discrete encounters, hundreds of gay dating websites that have many men in his “situation” looking for discrete encounters. I have to believe that people that seek such public and tawdry encounters have a larger problem than their sexual orientation. It seems to me that there is a certain amount of self-loathing involved that would prompt a desire for public bathroom sex.
    Craig’s personal pain and tragedy runs far deeper than his sexual orientation.


  13. PrahaPartizan says:

    Steve, I would agree with your call for compassion for Craig but for one thing. Craig’s resignation doesn’t take effect until the end of September – after all of the still pending appropriation votes occur. This lickspittle is still doing the bidding of his Publican overlords. If he really meant what he said about trying to put this incident behind him and trying to remove the cloud from above the state of Idaho, he would have resigned immediately.
    What was he promised for sticking around so he could vote in lockstep with the Publican Party which had just banished him? He has no future political career in Idaho. Was it several board memberships, future employment, etc. for not making his resignation effective immediately? Could his vote be considered bought, thereby making it a Federal crime? Curious minds want to know. Why isn’t he gone – I mean really, really, really gone – now? He’s still a tool of the neocon machine and deserves to be crushed.


  14. rich says:

    OT, but of interest.
    From an LSO on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf:
    “Last night in the galley, an ensign asked what right do we have to tell a sovereign nation that they can’t build a nuke. I mean the table got EF Hutton quiet. Not so much because the man was asking a question that was off culture. But that he was asking a good question.”
    “The discussion was intelligent but also in lowered voices. It’s like we aren’t allowed to ask the questions that we always ask before combat. It’s almost as if the average seaman or soldier is doing all the policy work.”
    “But when you liason with administration officials who don’t know that Iranians don’t speak Arabic and have no idea what Iranians live like, then you start having second thoughts about whether these Administration officials are even competent.”
    Recall it is the Saudis attacking our soldiers occupying Iraq. It is Saudi money, Saudi insurgents, Saudi explosives. Not so much Iran. Make no mistake: we’d be naive to think Iran isn’t acting in it’s interests to influence events next door. But that’s no crime. It’s the understandable imperative, and responsibility, of every nation to prepare for the self-defense; to act in self-preservation. “We’re Going to Hit Iran. Big Time.”


  15. albertchampion says:

    are you saying that alan simpson is a homosexual?


  16. Eli Rabett says:

    Given that the base of the Republican party is Evangelicals and authoritarian Catholic who virulently rail against gays. . fat chance.


  17. Frank says:

    I agree with the……6:58 post..He/she who doth protest too much has a problem. Mainly of self hate, one who can’t deal with his natural self.
    But you know???……What a tragedy…What does one do with this kinda thing if you were in his shoes? Aha, I know,….., it won’t happen if you don’t wear shoes..


  18. ... says:

    i detect a pattern.. the more anti-gay one is, the more likely they are to be gay… i don’t think any republicans or christians ought to think about this too hard. they might bump into themselves, or get themselves a scare.


  19. Jokester says:

    Idaho? No, Senator Craig da ho!


  20. JC says:

    Steve Clemmons wrote: “but now he’s out. He’s terminated one of the big contradictions in his life” as if Craig’s statement included an admission that he was gay. Of course he did NO SUCH THING so I must ask you Steve: Just what “contradiction” in his life did Craig terminate today and how do you claim he is “out” when he still vehemently denies his homosexuality?
    In other words, WTF are you talking about?


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *