Poor, sad Larry Craig

The party of the bedroom police has decided to take down one of its own.


Joan Walsh
August 30, 2007 3:37AM (UTC)

I'm debating Pat Buchanan about the raft of GOP sex scandals tonight, on MSNBC's "Live With Dan Abrams." Boy, I'm glad they didn't ask me last night, when Tucker Carlson mixed it up with Abrams and Joe Scarborough about being hit on in men's bathrooms; Digby has it here. (Carlson is now changing his story a bit, and denying that he actually assaulted the allegedly gay man who allegedly came on to him in a restroom. Icky.)

I haven't written about Sen. Larry Craig because I haven't needed to; Glenn Greenwald and Tim Grieve have said what's important. Except: The "closeted gay homophobe" story line is becoming so familiar that this time around, I found myself feeling sorry for the guy and thinking more about psychology than politics. What kind of self-hate drives gay Republicans to crusade against gay rights, preach their narrow "family values" -- and to risk their status by repeatedly soliciting sex from anonymous men in bathrooms? It's clear that a significant number of men are drawn to the moralizing right wing of the Republican Party because they can't accept their own sexuality; projecting and demonizing are soothing.

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Poor, sad Larry Craig has built a career, and a family, on tortured hypocrisy, and now old allies are running away. Funny how GOP Rep. David Vitter also broke the law by patronizing prostitutes, but Republicans aren't clamoring for his resignation. Is it that he's just a straight, white philanderer? Or is it that Democrats might take his seat, whereas Idaho is pretty solidly Republican, so they can afford to throw Craig under the bus?

I expect Buchanan to complain about liberal media double standards, but the story is simple. People hate hypocrites. Republicans have become the party of the bedroom police, and the hypocrisy of so many GOP leaders -- the closeted gay gay-bashers, the straight prostitute-patronizing "family values" champions, and all those garden-variety Gingrich philanderers -- is a big story. Also, come on, it's just a crazy, fascinating story: A grandfatherly senator soliciting sex in a public bathroom, and blaming it on his "wide stance"? Almost as good as Rep. Bob Allen, the Florida Republican who claimed he almost performed oral sex on an undercover police officer in another restroom because he was afraid of the cop, a "stocky black guy." I regret not thinking as creatively as the TV news team that reenacted Craig's bathroom assignation. Video here.

"Live With Dan Abrams" airs at 9 p.m. EDT.


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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