In what seems to be commonplace in Washington, another high profile official has been caught in the middle of a scandal.
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) vehemently denied Tuesday recent allegations of homosexual conduct saying, “I am not gay.”
Unfortunately for Craig, this statement has become somewhat of a campaign slogan for the embattled conservative who, over the course of his elected career, has had to deal with these reoccurring allegations.
What distinguishes this event from others is his admission of guilt to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for an event earlier this summer. Craig allegedly attempted to solicit sex from an undercover police officer in an airport bathroom in Minnesota.
Although accusations of a sexual orientation contrary to his conservative base may be, as Craig says, “completely ridiculous.” Nothing can alter the damage done to the trust of the American public, especially that of his Idaho constituency.
Any hopes of being reelected to a fourth term are, proverbially, in the toilet.
Bathroom-gate, coupled with recent instances of misconduct and fraud, has led many to believe that the Republicans are responsible for cultivating a culture of corruption – a term coined and widely used by Democratic leadership.
Such a supposition is na’ve.
Individuals, not parties, are the proprietors of this responsibility. Greed does not discriminate on the basis of party affiliation.
Democrats are equally as guilty as Republicans.
Bill Clinton, the poster boy of the Democratic Party, engaged in several extramarital affairs, not only as governor of Arkansas, but also as President of the United States.
James McGreevy, a former New Jersey governor, resigned in 2004 after admitting to a homosexual affair with a member of his cabinet.
Louisiana Rep., William Jefferson was recently indicted on 16 federal charges of money laundering, fraud and accepting bribes. According to reports from CNN, law enforcement officials found “$90,000 in cash in the freezer of Jefferson’s Washington home” representing only a fraction of the amount of money received by the Congressman.
Aside from Craig, the Republicans too are ripe with examples of scandalous behavior.
Richard Nixon was accused of abusing executive privilege; accusations which ultimately resulted in his resignation in 1974.
Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, recently admitted to having an affair during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.
In 2005, Rep. Tom Delay was indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of corruption and for conspiring to violate campaign finance laws.
Lewd conduct, as in the case of Craig, albeit inappropriate and not becoming of a US Congressman, is not as bad as using one’s power and position for personal gratification and gain.
However, the way public officials run their private life is a good indicator of the quality of their character. We are entitled to know how our representatives conduct themselves behind closed doors, as those actions could very well jeopardize our interests.
Term limits cover years, not just specific locations, days or occasions. Therefore, elected officials should direct their conduct with prudence and sobriety, knowing full well that every move, on or off the clock, is waiting to be lambasted and scrutinized.
With a heated election, complete with an even hotter presidential race, just around the corner, the Republicans are in serious need of a makeover.
In an attempt to remove itself from the culture of corruption, it will not be surprising if the party distances itself from the distressed Senator.
As for Craig, any attempts at damage control will only prove to be in vain, as his political career has been all but flushed away.