Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

On Larry Craig

Hendrik Hertzberg in his Talk of the Town New Yorker column, “Offenses” cogently summarizes the key aspects of the Craig case in the following terms-

“The story, combining as it does the libidinal and the scatological, has been a comic bonanza. Craig and his associates have proved coöperative in that department. Their contributions include the Senator’s explanation for playing footsie with the cop in the neighboring stall (“I have a wide stance”), his greeting to reporters at the press conference after the news broke (“Thank you all very much for coming out”), his spokesman’s dismissal of the whole business (“a he said/he said misunderstanding”), and the nickname of the Idaho governor, who will appoint a politically if not affectively identical Republican to take Craig’s place if he does get around to quitting (C. L. “Butch” Otter).

Besides snark, the overriding theme of public discussion of the Craig case has been hypocrisy. “I’m not gay,” the Senator insists, and if gayness is an identity as well as an innate predilection he may be right. He is, however, evidently homosexual. Yet he supports permitting job discrimination against homosexuals, opposes letting them serve in the military, favors a constitutional amendment forbidding them to marry, and voted for an Idaho ballot measure that proscribes gay civil unions. He is like the many politicians who have smoked marijuana themselves but oppose legalizing it even for medical use. Hypocritical? Yes. But, in both cases, the fundamental moral problem is not the inconsistency between private actions and professed beliefs. The problem is the professed beliefs.

If Craig has been (as he once described Bill Clinton) “a nasty, bad, naughty boy,” there is little evidence of it in the police report of his arrest. The report, written in a style somewhere between “The Naked Gun” and “Guy Noir, Private Eye” (“At about 1200 hours, I was working a plain-clothes detail involving lewd conduct in the main men’s public restroom of the Northstar Crossing”), describes a profoundly unshocking sequence of events. After exchanging stares with the seated officer through the crack of the stall door, Craig entered an adjoining stall, sat down, and tapped his foot. In response, the cop wrote, “I moved my foot up and down slowly.” Craig touched the side of his foot to the side of the cop’s. Then he swiped his fingertips three times along the bottom of the stall divider. Then he got arrested.”

October 5, 2007 - Posted by | Larry Craig, sexual politics

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