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    How long can you go?

    Flamin’ Nora, this is NEVER going to end, is it (via Henry at Gay Orbit)?

    Sen. Larry Craig filed court papers Monday seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in an airport sex sting, arguing that he entered the plea under stress caused by media inquiries into his sexuality.

    Craig, an Idaho Republican, pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct following his June arrest in a sting operation in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis airport. A police report alleged that Craig had solicited sex from a male officer at the airport, which the senator has denied.

    Okay, I can certainly understand being stressed out by the knowledge that the media are investigating your sex life. But you’d think that being under the gun that way would make you even more likely to protest your innocence as loudly as possible at every turn. Certainly, people who are stressed out often make snap decisions that don’t make much sense to outsiders, but it’s hard to interpret Craig’s guilty plea as anything but an acknowledgment that he’d done something he knew he could be busted for. (BTW, what could that hand-swiping movement possibly signal? “I can pay by credit card if you’re seeking genero$ity”?)

    If some cop in a public toilet showed me his badge from a neighboring stall and told me to follow him out, I’d be pretty baffled about what he was on about. I don’t pretend to be a choirboy; it’s not that I’m unaware that sex goes on in toilets. It’s not even that I never have throbbingly urgent homosexual thoughts in airport bathrooms–just that they’re along the lines of, Damn it! This tube of Origins Make a Difference Rejuvenating Hand Treatment in my bag is WAY more than four ounces! Great…with my luck, it’ll get confiscated, and for what? Do they expect me to terrorize a 747 full of passengers into submission by getting a flight attendant in a hammerlock and threatening to over-hydrate her skin? And you just know the drug store by the gate, if there is one, will have nothing but Jergens crap that goes on like motor oil…. A police officer who interrupted this reverie to inform me that any accompanying hand and foot motions suggested plans to engage in illegal behavior would get a blank look from me. “What…you think I was trying to sell you drugs or something?” Plenty of people plead guilty to crimes to avoid alternatives that seem worse, so a guilty plea doesn’t necessarily imply moral culpability, but Craig seemed awfully defensive for someone who wasn’t doing anything unseemly.

    Maybe I’m just naive, but it seems to me that the best way to stop shenanigans in the rest rooms is to post prominent signs that say “PREMISES MONITORED BY POLICE FOR YOUR SAFETY,” then to be sure a police officer does, in fact, look over the place once every ten minutes or so. If Craig really was caught by an excessively zealous patrol officer, then it’s only reasonable to wish him the best in getting his name cleared. (Eric thinks there may have been a constitutional issue, too.)

    But whichever way Craig exercised poor judgment, it was still poor judgment, and he’s making himself and his party look like fools. I wish the guy would just stop the press conferences, quietly go about seeking his day in court, and devote himself to a life of anonymous service to others until he figures out how not to be such a public flibbertigibbet. Yeah, I know–it’ll never happen, and I’ve just written a post about the whole ridiculous mess, which I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do.

    I never thought I’d live to see the day when I prayed the media would get back to obsessing over Britney.

    3 Responses to “How long can you go?”

    1. Eric Scheie says:

      Larry Craig’s “poor judgment” is an understatement if ever there was one! I wouldn’t feel guilty writing about something you promised never to write about though; it’s on today’s Inquirer front page again today. (No need to preoccupy ourselves with another “hsu” tapping scandal — and ongoing Clinton corruption….) What fascinates me about this is that it appears Craig committed no actual crime. Hand and foot signals in bathrooms, sleazy though they may be, are not illegal. It is just as legal for you to signal that you’ve got over four ounces in your tube, as long as you’re not lewd about it.

    2. Mark Alger says:

      I heartily dislike the cops surveilling restrooms for supposed gay sextrolls. I think it highly likely Craig was entrapped. Even if he were likely to have been looking for sex (from most reports: NOT), my adolescent sense of outraged injustice screams the cops shoon’t ha’ been there in the fust place, doin’ that stuff.

      And I really hate it that the GOP throws members in trouble under the bus far too readily — almost in a kneejerk fashion.

      BUT… My baby sister, who is something of a political protege of Craig’s, says he should resign, he did a stupid thing that’s costing the party big time, and he needs to Do The Right Thing.

      She also says: He. Should. Have. Called. His. Lawyer.


    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      I don’t know, Eric. “I’ve got over four ounces in my tube” sounds pretty intrinsically lewd to me. Indeed, deliciously lewd. My day is made.

      Mark, the whole sting approach strikes me as ridiculous, too. The airport authority and police department do have a responsibility to respond to complaints about misbehavior in the toilets, but as I say, increasing visible police presence seems to me to be the obvious way to stop it. I don’t know that the Craig case is entrapment in the sense that the officer goaded him into committing an offense he would otherwise not have. Still, Craig didn’t do anything that was clearly illegal. (Eric, you noted that, too.) I kind of with the GOP had given him a little breathing space, too, but you have to admit he didn’t do himself any favors by handling the whole mess so stupidly.

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