Larry Craig and the double standards

The White House still won't talk about Scooter Libby. So why is it calling Craig a "disappointment"?

Published August 30, 2007 5:40PM (EDT)

There has been a lot of talk about the Republicans' double standard when it comes to Larry Craig and David Vitter. We don't remember hearing any Republican senators call for Vitter's resignation after the Louisiana senator admitted engaging in "a very serious sin" with a prostitute. Is that because cheating on your wife with a female prostitute is somehow more family friendly than trying to cheat on your wife with a guy in a men's room? Or is it because a Democratic governor would name Vitter's replacement while a Republican governor would name Craig's?

We don't know the answer to that one, but we do know a little about another double standard we're seeing. Even after George W. Bush commuted Scooter Libby's prison sentence, the White House declined to say anything about the outing of Valerie Plame on the grounds that Libby was still appealing his conviction.

Craig said this week that although he already pleaded guilty in the Minneapolis men's room incident, he has hired a lawyer to "examine" the case and "advise" him on "how to proceed." By our way of thinking, that makes Craig's case just as "ongoing" as Libby's is.

And yet, here's White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, addressing the Craig case today just as White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did yesterday. "This whole matter is one of disappointment," Perino said. Perino wouldn't say whether the president thinks Craig should resign, only that the White House wants the matter "to be resolved quickly." If there's a way of doing that short of pushing Craig out of the Senate, we can't imagine what it would be, and Perino certainly didn't say.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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