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Open Mouth, Shoot Foot

September 3, 2007


I want to believe that embattled Senator Larry Craig, R-ID, is innocent of the recent lewd conduct charges against him. In part I want to believe it because I'm sick to death of hearing things like this about Republicans, things that cause further harm to a once-great party that is already doing the job of self-destruction quite well.

And I'd have no problem believing that Craig was set up by an over-zealous (and probably Democrat-leaning) security officer except for one little nagging thing: Craig actually pled guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. That is, he admitted wrongdoing after denying he did anything wrong, a la Michael Vick.

When Rush Limbaugh says he's on a relentless pursuit of the truth, that's not all hype. To get to the truth of the matter regarding public figures these days, one needs special truth-detecting abilities. Recently, we've heard a couple of major gaffes from public figures, both of which have people scratching their heads in disbelief.

The first was about another pro football player's questionable actions in wrecking an ultra-expensive car, walking away from the scene, calling to at first claim the vehicle was stolen, and then recanting and admitting that he totaled it in the wee morning hours. That his team took him back with no investigation, no further questioning, says it all about what the truth means these days compared to one's ability to perform mayhem on a football field.

On another truth-detecting front, was Miss Teen South Carolina really as ditzy as she sounded in her nonsensical response to the question, "Why can't so many Americans find the U.S. on a world map?" My theory was that the question threw her off totally-in today's globalist, politically correct, multicultural environment, she must have been expecting a question about anything not American or any place except the United States. Thus, she had a feel-good, save-the-world response that included Africa and Iraq, and that was her story and she was sticking to it, no matter what the question was. Of course, as a reward the befuddled young lady is now getting her 15 minutes of fame with luminaries like Matt Lauer.

In Senator Craig's case, it was noted that Sgt. Dave Karsnia has made at least 12 arrests for allegedly lewd conduct in rest rooms. As with Craig, all it took in most cases was the hand or other (foot?) signals that Karsnia believed were solicitations for sex. Over-zealousness or just doing his job? This is the Twin Cities we're talking about, not New York or LA, so it seems out of place for lewd behavior in public restrooms to be occurring on any sort of regular basis in this relatively staid Midwestern location. Why is this security guy so bent on finding it? Just asking.

The Republicans' reaction was depressingly predictable. Sure, they should back away from supporting Craig if he is indeed guilty of the charges against him. But my goodness, this is the Senate we're talking about-home of Sen. Chappaquiddick Manslaughter and Sen. Former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle. I'm tired of the liberals' bleating about how hypocritical Republicans are when they preach family values and then get caught in allegedly compromising situations like Craig did. Wrongdoing is wrongdoing, and the only differences are that when Democrats do it (1) they have the mainstream press on their side to minimize the damage, and (2) it's supposedly not hypocritical on their part because they, by and large, don't preach traditional family values and then violate them. The Democrats should not only be held to the same standard of judgment and consequences, they should also be held collectively accountable and responsible, as the Republicans always are, for cleaning house when it needs cleaning. In Sen. Kennedy's and Byrd's cases, just to name two, that clearly has never happened.

Does this mean that Republicans should stoop to the same level of ethical behavior as their "friends" across the aisle? Hardly. But pandering to the left by taking knee-jerk positions on a three-term colleague with no "priors" seems to be a needless rush to judgment, brought on by fear of future electoral impact if not resolved quickly. Surely if Sen. Harry Reid had been arrested on a similar charge, the worst any of his colleagues would be saying is, "Let's wait until all the facts are in before taking any action." In the Democrats' case, the "facts" are normally the last thing in which they're interested, but the nice safe statement buys time for the legal beagles to work their magic, along with friends in the media, to make the situation fade away. The Republicans who called for Craig to resign (and Saturday, got their wish) are giving up before the anticipated battle that they simply don't have the stomach to fight anymore. Ironically, they have made principle and expediency intersect on this occasion, but they're not fooling me as to which is more important.

As Fred Thompson enters the madness otherwise known as the 2008 presidential race, he would do well, when asked about his former Senate colleague, to give the kind of measured response that doesn't necessarily follow the party line. In other words, play some offense for a change, which can be done without having to defend Craig. After all, "Cold Cash" William Jefferson is still in office, isn't he?

Copyright ©2007 Phil Perkins

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