Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why Craig Had To Go

While the media attention and questioning of his fitness to continue in office in Craig's case are demonstrably different from the coverage of, say Gerry Studds or Barney Frank's similarly shameful episodes, and while those glaring double standards should be trumpeted as loudly as the media itself trumpets Craig's disgrace, the hard fact is that Senator Craig's violations of public decency made it impossible for him to continue in office as a Republican.

Public restrooms are in fact public places, and solicitation of sex in public places is of course conduct unbecoming of a responsible person. Even granting Craig's implausible defence that his actions were only misconstrued is made inadequate by his guilty plea, acknowledging his lewd public behaviour.

Now, we could argue tactically that it was not in Craig's best interest to plead guilty to a morals charge, but that argument is counterfactual. Craig pleaded to lewd behaviour, hoping somehow that the whole thing would be kept quiet. Even assuming that his plea was an unprincipled attempt to avoid public embarassment (opening the question as to whether someone so foolish has any claim to public authority), the lack of principle in the plea would also indicate that his attitude to the question of public morality was sufficiently blase to undermine his support for the moral component of the Republican Party's platform.

The fact that the Democratic Party is completely unprincipled on issues of sexual morality, and is given complete cover on any incidents exposing its lack of principle does not constitute a license for Republican party leaders to abdicate the beliefs of their supporters, just because they can, for a time, get away with it. In the end, the media will expose them, damaging the Party, and feeding the cynical notion that the American ruling class is completely rotten on these issues.

The Republican Party is better off with Craig gone. Even if it took media piling-on to get the party leadership to realise it.

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