Beware of sex-soliciting senators at Union Station

This story about Larry Craig is something that I find hilarious, puzzling, frustrating, depressing, and a little bit hopeful all at the same time.

I first heard about the story when I heard about it on CNN. They showed a clip of Larry Craig going out onto his podium and giving a press conference speech about how he wasn’t gay and how the newspapers have no proof and blah, blah, blah, and I kind of believed him when he was saying it because I’m just that gullible when a politician launches some heartfelt appeal for people to believe him. I didn’t have any reason not to believe him until the minute the speech ended, when the pundits on the Larry King show analyze the speech: They had a journalist for the paper that broke the story along with a strategist from both the democratic and republican parties and none of them believed him. They discussed how damaging this was to American politics and the Democratic Strategist (I think his name was Carville?) talked about how these guys are just human beings and we shouldn’t be so hard on them. This was the part of the story that made me seem hopeful about the future of politics: That someone from the other side could preach forgiveness. Carville went on to say that the only problem was that the Republican Party tends to go about preaching moral superiority so it’s a little hard to forgive him. I personally agree to that, especially since Senator Craig has apparently voted against measures to aid Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

At the same time, I was kind of curious because they didn’t say exactly what lewd act transpired in the bathroom. Fortunately, newspapers like the Idaho Statesman have left no stone unturned in their investigation and by going to their website I was able to get more details than I ever wanted to know including testinomies of someone who claims to have had sex with Senator Craig in a Union Station bathroom (audio clip). If only I had the skills of John Stewart, Colin Quinn, Jay Leno or Jimmy Kimmel, I think I could make a really good joke about this and since I know they’ve probably already collectively made over 100 jokes about this, I’m not even going to attempt it.

I think the troubling part of this whole episode is how even liberal papers like the Washington Post are writing articles about the incident and Craig’s career in terms of his chances to recover from this scandal. I think in the process of doing that, newspapers inadvertantly condone these games that people play in Washington. If you lied, you should admit to it. That’s just common decency, not bad strategy. There’s no sense of truth in Washington anymore, it’s all about spinning things, using perception as a strategy. And the end result is that a senator, one of the most prestigious public servants that represents our country to all those who watch us from abroad, can go onto a podium, look us straight in the eye and lie to us. Following this, a room full of pundits and analysts will then discuss whether this was good or bad strategy, when in fact, they should simply be dismissing lies like this as wrong.

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