Well, Senator Larry Craig is out. New West's coverage is very solid.
No big news here. But I do think it's worth revisiting Dave Lewis's comments, not because I think that the guy ought to be hung for what he admits was a stupid over-the-top statement (one of the things that will eventually hopefully come with this whole Internet thing is an ability for press, people, and political parties to accept that we all sometimes talk before thinking), but because I think his more recent comments reflect a continuing grasping to justify his anger toward Senator Craig in a non-homophobic way.
Check out his back-and-forth with Jay where he says his problem with Sen. Craig is that "embarrassing and stupid behavior is unacceptable" and that he doesn't "care if he [Craig] is gay."
Well, sure, but when Jay asks about David Vitter, a man who has admitted to hiring a prostitute -- even though it is a crime unlikely to ever be charged. Lewis's response is that he'd feel the same way if Vitter is "found guilty of a crime." But isn't public admission basically the same as being found guilty?
And maybe Vitter isn't the best example. So let's look closer to home Rep. Scott Boggio faced precisely 0 calls from within his own party (as far as I can recall) to resign when he was arrested for driving drunk with a BAC of .14%.
That wasn't just stupid and embarassing -- it was extremely dangerous. A man with a similar BAC in Billings had recently struck and killed a pedestrian. Even worse, both Boggio and his passenger Rep. Elsie Arntzen either knowingly lied or made clear that they are too stupid to legislate when they said either that it was a "few drinks" with dinner (one wry commenter noted that 'quite a few' is still 'a few') and that they didn't know he was impaired.
Now, my point in all this isn't to make it sound like only Republicans do bad things. It's really any attempt to gain some clarity from people demanding Sen. Craig's head as to what, exactly, made his offense so much worse than sex with a prostitute or a drunk driving incident?
I'm asking because I don't understand how the outrage meter on the right really works. A President getting a blowjob from an intern? Impeachable. A Senator allegedly attempting to solicit gay sex in a bathroom? Kill him and/or make him resign. A Senator hiring a prostitute? Crickets chirp. A Representative driving while wasted? Crickets chirp.
Is it that it occurred in a public restroom? Because I agree that's distasteful, especially for a U.S. Senator. But after seeing everything else the Republican Party seems willing to tolerate within its ranks, I have a tough time seeing what's such a big deal about this.
And since I'll inevitably be called a hypocrite, let me just say this: Yes, Rep. William Jefferson should resign. He should have resigned a long time ago. And Congressional leaders should pressure him to step down.
Update -- Patrick Ruffini, a young GOP web consultant, is taking issue with those of us on the left who think that the outrage aimed at Craig is an indication of homophobia on the right. He has one fair point -- I think it is possible to believe in a religious definition of marriage that excludes same-sex marriage without being anti-gay. But I don't see where Ruffini gets off claiming that opposing LGBT folks in the military isn't an anti-gay stance. He claims it is a public policy issue, not a personal judgment. Well, sorry, buddy, but it's both.
See -- Jim Crow was public policy. It was also horrendously racist public policy. Now, you can make either that "I hate gay people and don't want to serve with them" argument or the more paternalistic "I don't hate gay people, but I know some people in the military would be uncomfortable around gay people, so I support discrimination to protect the feelings of bigots." Both arguments are fundamentally embracing of discrimination. For Ruffini to claim that such a stance doesn't make him anti-gay is a load of crap. And Marc Ambinder is wrong to acknowledge his point. He didn't really have one.
Update 2: It's worth noting that Senator Lewis did the proper thing here. I'm raising these questions publicly not to beat up on a public official who admitted a pretty minor screw-up, but because Dave has shown himself to be thoughtful enough to grapple with criticism. And I'm one of those folks who is arrogant enough to think my criticism worthwhile. He deserves respect for taking time to respond to his critics, for owning up to his mistake, and for not blaming anyone but himself for his poor thinking. We could all use him as an example on this stuff.