Larry Craig and the Pain of the Log Cabin Republicans

(Editor's Note: The saga of Sen. Larry Craig took new turns this week with a judge in Minnesota agreeing to a hearing about the Senator's guilty plea and Republicans still wondering if Craig will resign or not.)

by Jeff Siegel

We'll ignore the jokes for the time being (though some of them are pretty funny), because Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's airport restroom escapade is about more than the usual punditry or even Craig's sad, pitiful attempts to convince everyone, especially himself, that he is as straight as John Wayne. It's also about whether the Republican Party will ever make room for anyone who isn't a heterosexual Anglo male.

Because the GOP won't, as the Craig episode shows. Is what Craig did worse than what Louisiana Sen. David Vitter did (and Vitter is apparently a Bill Clinton-class womanizer)? Nope. It's just different. Yet Vitter kept his job, while Craig was forced out by party leaders, whose enthusiasm for ditching him was frightening. That Craig's ratings from conservative groups were just as high, or even higher, than the party brass who forced him out made no difference. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney even compared Craig to Clinton, saying, "Once again, we've found people in Washington have not lived up to the level of respect and dignity that we would expect for somebody that gets elected to a position of high influence." You can't get much more thrown under the bus than that.

What's even sadder is that the Log Cabin Republicans, which represents the party's gay wing (such as it is), were riding on that bus. I long ago stopped feeling sorry for politicians, since they bring most of their problems on themselves. But Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon's attempt to explain the difference between Craig and Vitter made me cringe in pain. Does Sammon really believe that the "gay angle" didn't make a difference? Or that it's okay for Vitter to keep his job because he apologized?

Why the Log Cabin Republicans want to belong to a club that doesn't want them as a member is something they need to work out. If they can live with a group like the Christian Coalition, a key part of the GOP power structure and which once ran newspaper ads that said gays can "overcome" their sexual identity by accepting God, that's their business.

Just don't expect the rest of us to take you seriously.

(The photo is from Sen. Craig's website and is in the public domain. To see a Doonesbury cartoon about the Craig scandal, please go here.)

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