It’s the end of summer in Washington – so it’s a good time for an old-fashioned scandal?
On Aug. 27, CNN reported that Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, a staunch opponent of gay rights, pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a case involving an undercover police officer claiming the senator made clear suggestions for sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.
Now the senator is claiming that he did nothing wrong.
However, there is a lot wrong with his story.
First of all, if he’s not guilty, why did he plead guilty?
The senator claims he just wanted the whole thing to go away and thought that by pleading guilty the whole issue would simply blow over.
This reveals two things – either the senator is dumb enough to think the media would miss a gay rights opponent admitting to asking for sex with another man, or he’s lying through his teeth.
Considering the senator is a politician, I’m going with choice number two.
Another problem with his story is the police report that shows clear intent on the senator’s part in asking the undercover police officer for sex.
The officer claims the senator tapped his right foot several times and even placed his foot under the stall, touching the police officer’s left foot in the adjacent stall. The officer reported that all these acts were typical signals used by persons “wishing to engage in lewd conduct.”
The senator’s response? He claimed after the incident that he simply, “has a wide stance when going to the bathroom.”
A wide stance? Alex Rodriguez doesn’t have that wide of a stance when he’s up to bat!
The point here is that the senator appears to be guilty not only of disorderly conduct, but of the worst crime a politician can commit – hypocrisy.
If you’re going to be against gay rights, it might help your cause not to be caught attempting to engage in homosexual conduct yourself.
Ask Pastor Ted Haggard. He knows very well what hypocrisy can do to one’s career.
Then, of course, there is former Rep. Foley from Florida who was accused just last year of harassing congressional pages. Where is Mr. Foley now? He is a former representative from Florida, and he had never lost an election prior to his scandal.
Of course, conservative Republicans aren’t the only politicians familiar to scandal.
In 2006, Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was found to have stashed away $90,000 of less-than-legal cash in his freezer; another example of the high-quality politicians we seem to elect.
Then, of course, there is our former president who, after engaging in oral sex in the oval office, lied both to the American people and under oath, which, if you are familiar with former Vice-President aide Scooter Libby, can land you prison time.
No wonder American opinions of Congress are so low: the latest Gallup poll showed an 18 percent approval rating on August 22, a week before this latest scandal with Senator Craig.
Lesson learned: It is time we started to demand much more of those we elect to office.
As an American, I am disgusted at the amount of scandal that goes on in Washington. As a Republican, I am even more disgusted at the amount that goes on within my own party.
If Republicans and all politicians alike are to gain back the respect of the American people, then it is time for the leadership to step up and clean house. People like Sen. Craig cannot be tolerated and must be removed from office.
Likewise, rules must be put in place, not only in Congress, but also within the party to make sure lawmakers know the trouble they could face if they break the rules, in hopes of deterring them from breaking the rules in the first place.
Finally, candidates should be scrutinized before they are nominated for public office. The American public should demand candidates that are worthy of our respect.
It’s a high standard for a politician, I know, but I think it could be done.
Caleb Thornton is a junior political science major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.