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Larry Craig and Spin

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Spin, spin, and more spin! After watching Larry Craig's news conference, we assumed that the case was now officially over. We could move on to cover something else, perhap the rapper Foxy Brown's court appearance or the feud between Kanya West and 50 Cent. Republican have been hammered this year so they were relieved that Craig was gone but we were all mistaken.

During the widely covered press conference, he did state that his intent was to resign from the Senate in late September but most of us completely missed the emphasis he placed on the words intended to resign. He never said that he would resign, just intended, leaving himself wiggle room to later change his mind. So after listening to the voice message, I came to the conclusion that the entire press conference was nothing but typical Washington spin. Craig got us!

In a voice message obtained by Roll Call that was inadvertently left by Craig at a wrong number on Saturday morning, the Idaho Republican discussed his forthcoming press conference as "more as a strategy to rehabilitate his political fortunes than a statement about his looming departure."

"'Yes, Billy, this is Larry Craig calling. You can reach me on my cell. Arlen Specter is now willing to come out in my defense, arguing that it appears, by all that he knows, that I've been railroaded and all of that,' Craig said on the voice mail. 'Having all of that, we've reshaped my statement a little bit to say it is my 'intent' to resign on Sept. 30."

The press conference was nothing but spin and damage control. Big mistake Larry.  Never leave these kind of incriminating messages on voice machines. They can return to bite you in court.

Next, as part of the spin, Craig dispatched his two children, Michael Craig and Shae Howell to the morning talk on Good Morning America to tell the public what a good guy old Larry is and that he is not gay and not guilty of the lewd conduct in the men's bathroom. Michael Craig even went on to say that his father was a victim of circumstances and that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This was a terrible strategy that backfired on Craig who should have known that the media would dig into the background of his children. Unsolicited advice to Craig, hire a good public relations person.

The criminal records of Michael Craig and Shae Howell, whom Sen. Craig adopted after marrying their mother, Suzanne, in 1983, call into question their credibility as character witnesses and further undermine and damage Craig's portrayal of himself as a defender of family values. For example, at least two women have sought restraining orders against Michael Craig, previously charged with statutory rape but the charges were later dismissed. Shae Howell even had an outstanding warrant for her arrest when she appeared on Good Morning America. She was charged with allegedly breaking into her estranged husband's home and destroying property.

More spin, Craig and his wife released a statement "Raising children in their teens and as they become adults is never an easy task. Few people have gone through life without a few bumps. Our kids have worked to get through their tough times, and we have supported them as families do. We have watched them grow to become loving and caring parents of our beautiful grandchildren. We love our children very much and stand by them even when they struggle."

So where do we go from here? Craig will continue to fight to get the guilty plea reversed and contest the case in court. Meanwhile he retains his senator seat. The legal process would take time, and the media and public would have moved on to something else. (Michael Vick who?) The public has a short memory. Personally, I do not feel that these misdemeanor charges should be enough to kick Craig out of office but that will have to be another post.

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  • moonraven

    I ALREADY SAID ON ANOTHER THREAD THAT HE SHOULD STAY.

    Everybody in congress is a hypocrite–if they can stay then Craig should stay, too.

    YOUR taxes dollars in action, morons.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    Craig has to go because Republicans are the party of “do as I say, not as I do.” They spend so much time preaching and judging, that when one of their own is caught doing something that they’ve been railing against (i.e. being gay), they’ve got to put their foot down, to show the world that the sinner (Craig) is just an anomaly.

    Republicans would do better to ditch their self-rightous, judgemental philosophy and return to their “live and let live” roots. Craig needs to take his own journey and come to terms with his sexuality before it does even more damage to his psyche.

  • Clavos

    “Craig has to go because Republicans are the party of “do as I say, not as I do.” They spend so much time preaching and judging, that when one of their own is caught doing something that they’ve been railing against (i.e. being gay), they’ve got to put their foot down, to show the world that the sinner (Craig) is just an anomaly.”

    First of all, Craig is being criticized by Republicans, not for being gay, but for being a hypocrite and preaching family values while cheating on his wife. He pleaded guilty, and now is trying to backpedal, both on the guilty plea (which is unlikely to succeed), and on his announced intention to resign, which I hope will also not succeed.

    The Democrat response (including yours) leaves no options for reaction on the part of the Republicans. If they demand his resignation, Democrats, as you just have, criticize them. If they do nothing and let him stay, they will be accused of hypocrisy.

    And all the while, Jefferson continues to stay in office.

    Be careful where you stow your thrones, DeLong.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    C’mon, Craig’s real crime in the eyes of Republicans is that he’s gay. They just can’t come out and say that without looking like the blatant homophobes that they are…so it’s “he pleaded guilty, so he has to resign.” Of course, if he had pleaded guilty to any other misdemeanor (unrelated to being gay) he wouldn’t be in trouble.

    People would have a higher opinion of Republicans if they’d just shut up and stop trying to tell people how to live their lives.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Doug, the facts just don’t bear you out. The GOP is jampacked with gays and no one gives a damn. Really. The frontrunner in our presidential primary is a cross-dresser ferchrissakes. How much more accepting do you want us to be?

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “C’mon, Craig’s real crime in the eyes of Republicans is that he’s gay.”

    In the absence of empirical evidence, that statement is no more than your unfounded opinion.

    I call bullshit.

  • STM

    I reckon Craig was just playing a little game of footsies like you do under the table at dinner parties. No harm in that, is there :) Or maybe he was just trying to squeeze out an oversized brown trout and his feet shifted with the strain. What’s the big deal??

    Probably shouldn’t have pleaded guilty though, eh? That was his real crime. Public-toilet shenanigans and politics just aren’t a good mix.

  • STM

    I reckon Craig was just playing a little game of footsies like you do under the table at dinner parties. No harm in that, is there :) Or maybe he was just trying to squeeze out an oversized brown trout and his feet shifted with the strain. What’s the big deal??

    Probably shouldn’t have pleaded guilty though, eh? That was his real crime. Public-toilet shenanigans and politics just aren’t a good mix.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Oversized brown trout… there’s one I haven’t heard before. LOL.

    You back ‘ome, Stan, or did you just get bored with being Vasco da Gama?

    I was half-expecting you’d be gone for a while, having ‘absent-mindedly’ wandered across the French border and ‘accidentally’ stumbled into a series of large bowl-shaped buildings filled with vast hordes of humanity watching 30 sweating, grunting and extremly ugly men wrestling an oval ball around a field.

  • STM

    LOL, doc. Isn’t sport wonderful? Grown men bashing and belting the shit out of each other so they can get a bag of wind from one end of a field to the other. Love it …

    You have to love “civilisation”. I wonder what aliens would make of it if they were ever watching what goes on here. I wanted to go (desperately, actually), but the boss wouldn’t let me. And as he quite rightly points out, that’s what pay-TV’s for …

    There was a bit about the Rugby World Cup on Portugese TV, as their team beat Uruguay to get in for the first time. I watched them back here overnight. They played Scotland early this morning and did really well for about 60 minutes – even scoring a really nice try, getting into double figures on the scoreboard and nearly bagging two more touchdowns before the Scots ran away with it.

    The US did really well against England, too, and played some really nice rugby agaist the rusty-looking champions. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, of course, ran up cricket scores in their openers. NZ look awesome – everyone’s tip to win, and judging by their game against Italy, it’s not far off the mark.

    The big shock was Argentina beating France in the pool of death (although I don’t know why it’s such a shock as the Pumas can beat anyone on the day when they are running hot), which also includes in-form Ireland, and throws the whole thing wide open.

    I will give more reports as they come to hand as I know how interested you are :)

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    In the absence of empirical evidence, that statement is no more than your unfounded opinion.

    Opinion? Yes. Unfounded? Hardly. My opinion is founded on the long history of Republican opposition to virtually anything designed to improve the lives of gay Americans or to grant them rights that others take for granted. Not to mention all the fundamentalist Christian Republicans who believe that gays are evil, they’re out to get their children, and they’re headed to hell.

    If you have a case to make that the Republican party is actually a party that’s open and welcoming to gays and and is doing their damndest to make sure that gays are treated like everyone else, I’d like to hear it.

  • Clavos

    “…Not to mention all the fundamentalist Christian Republicans who believe that gays are evil, they’re out to get their children, and they’re headed to hell.”

    You’re equating the fundies with the majority of the party, and ignoring the fact that fundie dems, numerous in the rural south, think exactly the same way. Neither group represents the principles and ideals of their party.

    If the Republican party itself and its principles and ideals are so anti-gay, why are so many Republicans gay? Are gays self haters?

    Your attempt to paint the entire Republican party with the fundie brush is specious. The “long history” of the Republican party you mention dates no further back than the “long history” of the Bush administration, which is not representative of Republican values.

    Not one Republican calling for Craig’s resignation has said he should resign because he’s gay, yet you say that’s the real reason.

    Unfounded opinion.

    Bullshit.

  • Nancy

    Actually, a lot of gays seem to be, if not self-haters, at least ambivilent about themselves, being conditioned that way by generic social disapproval of their gayness, etc.

    Whatever. While Clavos is right that Fundie Dems (if there is such an animal; I’ve never met one) would probably think that way, you have to admit it’s the GOP that has the reputation & image of being extremely judgemental & hostile to non-conformists of all stamps & persuasions…and then of being exposed as BEING exactly what they’ve been condemning. There’s a host of GOPs I could name, starting with Gingrich & DeLay & heading downwards, of these guys who have huffed & puffed about the sins of others, while ignoring their own pecadillos – until they in turn have been exposed. Dems seem more to just come out & say, “I’m gay, so what?” thereby saving themselves the headaches the GOP has in that regard. As for Jefferson, yeah, they SHOULD get rid of him. Why they haven’t (maybe he’s an old boyfriend of Pelosi’s or he has something on her?) is beyond me. He should have been drop-kicked Jesus thru the goal posts of Life long ago by the entire party. However, being as about the first thing he did was pull the racial discrimination card, my guess would be the Dems are tiptoeing around him to avoid having to deal with Al “The Mouth” Sharpton et al.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    1992: The Republican party platform states: “We oppose any legislation or law that legally recognizes same-sex marriages and allows such couples to adopt children or provide foster care.”

    1996: The civil rights plank of the Republican party platform supports the legal elimination of preferences based on race, gender or ethnicity, but then states: “We reject the distortion of those laws that cover sexual preference.”

    2000: Gay Republicans try to change the language of the 1996 party platform to make it more inclusive. Tommy Thompson, chair of the Republican 2000 party platform, agrees to delete the offending final sentence in the initial draft. He refers to it as “vitriolic rhetoric that has plagued us in the past.” But when Thompson presents the draft to the full committee, they promptly put back the deleted sentence, but change the phrasing to read “We do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law.”

    2000: The Texas Republican party platform opposes the decrimilization of sodomy, and lumps gays together with child molestors in stating that neither group should have “the right to custody or adoption of a minor child, and that visitation with minor children by such persons should be limited to supervised periods.”

    2004: President Bush pushes to change the Constitution to effectively ban same-sex marriage. The Republican party platform states its opposition to civil unions for gay couples. No openly gay Republican is invited to speak at the GOP convention.

    So tell me again how Republicans love the gays. There’s a reason why gays and lesbians represent an important constituency in the Democratic party, but only represent a small, confused, and frustrated minority in the Republican party.

  • Clavos

    2000-2007 The Bush Administration is in power; three of your five citations took place during that period.

    In 1992, very few americans (not just republicans) were willing to accept gays as equals.

    If one goes back far enough in history (as you started to), one can find any number of actions by any political party to support all kinds of politically incorrect ideas and policies. To wit:

    January 1, 1863. Republican president Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the Negro slaves. Very unpopular, especially with the aforementioned rural southern democrats, who proceed to launch the secession movement, which in turn brought on the War of Northern Aggression.

    Again, are all those Republican gays self haters?? None of the ones I know are.

    Craig was censured because he’s a pompous, pious, asshole, and he had it coming.

    The republicans (AND the democrats) would do well to drum all such people out of their respective ranks; we would all benefit from it, even though it would reduce the senate to about five members and congress to 35 or 40.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Note that the 2000 wording in the GOP party platform which you quote in no way endorses discrimination against gays, just special priveleges for them. The GOP opposes special priveleges for ANY minority.

    As for the status of gays as a group within the GOP, they are not generally discriminated against and hold many positions of leadership and no one has been complaining about it. And they’re not some tiny confused minority as you suggest. They’re a fairly large and influential minority.

    Dave

  • Dr Dreadful

    Fundie Dems (if there is such an animal; I’ve never met one)

    Fred Phelps.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Clav, point of order: the current administration did not assume office until January 2001. So most of Doug’s citations actually took place off Bush’s watch.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    This is the Republican approach to gay rights (courtesy of Karl Rove)…

    Work to get anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot in 11 states in the 2004 election in order to drive conservative voters to the polls. Their strategy worked to perfection, and it can be argued that it is the reason that Bush is president today.

  • Clavos

    I think Karl Rove was working for Bush, not the party.

    But, you’re right, it did work; as did almost everything Rove planned.

    He’s arguably the most intelligent political strategist in the us today.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    The quite wonderful Hendrik Hertzberg in this week’s New Yorker neatly slices open several of the hypocritical and misinformed ideas about this case, both on the left and the right. He begins by recounting the heartbreaking story of pioneer NAACP activist Bayard Rustin, who spent 60 days in jail for homosexual activity in 1953. Those interested in some actual thinking and writing on the Craig matter may check it out here.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    “Special privileges” aka “special rights” is just a code phrase for: “We don’t support faggots.” Please don’t disingenuously defend the hateful [literally] 2000 platform plank on gays. The code words have been used consistently in multiple places and contexts by the religious right to describe any and all gay rights legislation. I’m a bit shocked at our two gay-friendly rightists defending this nastiness.

  • Otis B. Driftwood

    “First of all, Craig is being criticized by Republicans, not for being gay, but for being a hypocrite and preaching family values while cheating on his wife.”

    If that were the case, where is the Republican outcry against Sen. David Vitter? He preached family values and cheated on his wife also. Craig was accused of soliciting gay sex. Vitter went one step farther and confessed to sleeping with a prostitute. Is the latter being brought up on Senate ethics charges? Is he being told to resign?

    “Are gays self haters?”

    Considering that from the cradle to the grave, they are told how terrible and sinful their lifestyle is, especially if they are religious, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising. It might help explain why gay teens are more likely to commit suicide than straight teens.

    I don’t think all Republicans are anti-gay, but where are the open gay Republicans? It can’t be pure coincidence that they closet themselves to succeed in the party.

  • Clavos

    Vitter didn’t plead guilty to anything, but I will agree to the extent that I believe that the rs didn’t demand his ouster because he would have been replaced by a d, making it politically inconvenient, while craig will be replaced by another r, so politics entered into the choice, but then, we ARE talking about politicians, right?

    Because of more than four decades of involvement with community and regional theater, I know many, many gays personally and well. I’m straight, so virtually all the gays I know are gay are, by definition, out. I’ve never gotten an impression from any of them that they are self hating. Practically all of the gays whom I know well and count as friends, BTW, are conservatives, politically, but more libertarian than republican.

  • Otis B. Driftwood

    I didn’t say he plead guilty. I said he confessed to cheating on his wife.

    From FoxNews website:

    “This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible,” Vitter said in a statement after the phone records were posted Monday on Palfrey’s Web site.

    “Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling.”

    But I do cede to your point that the Republican moral outrage in this matter, like the moral outrage of many politicians, is disappointingly selective.

    In regards to your friends, if they are out, they are obviously comfortable with who they are. It’s those closeted, like Rev Haggard, who are self-hating. Have you ever asked them how they felt about themselves before they came out?

    Again, who are the openly gay Republicans Senators or Congressmen/women?

  • daryl d

    I went to the West Hollywood Pride Parade last year. It was soooo gay! It looked just like the National Republican Convention.

  • Clavos

    “I didn’t say he plead guilty. I said he confessed to cheating on his wife.”

    I KNOW you didn’t say that; I was referring to the fact that craig DID plead guilty, which makes the two cases different from each other.

    Vitter wasn’t convicted of a crime.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    But, you’re right, it did work; as did almost everything Rove planned. He’s arguably the most intelligent political strategist in the us today.

    You’re right, if by “intelligent” you mean “able to manipulate and exploit people’s fears for political advantage.” His family must be proud.

  • Clavos

    …”able to manipulate and exploit people’s fears for political advantage.”

    The very definition of contemporary us politics, as practiced by all but a tiny handful of them.

    Rove is just better at it than most.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    The very definition of contemporary us politics, as practiced by all but a tiny handful of them. Rove is just better at it than most.

    I see…so in your view, because you perceive what Rove does as business as usual, you have no problem with fearmongering. You actually seem to celebrate it.

    That’s fine. You continue to celebrate Rove as a hero, and the rest of us will strive for a government that treats people with dignity and respect, and doesn’t insult our intelligence.

  • http://planetjapan.org Doug DeLong

    Clavos: In 1992, very few americans (not just republicans) were willing to accept gays as equals.

    Very few Americans??

    I’m sorry, but that is just about the most ridiculous thing you’ve every written (and you’ve written some pretty ridiculous things).

  • Clavos

    “You continue to celebrate Rove as a hero, and the rest of us will strive for a government that treats people with dignity and respect, and doesn’t insult our intelligence.”

    I don’t recall ever using the word “hero.”

    Do I recognize Rove’s brilliance at what he does? Of course. It’s self evident (or should be), even to those who disagree.

    If I’m celebrating him, it’s in the same vein as generations have celebrated Machiavelli, and for much the same reason; genius is genius, regardless of whether it’s benign or malevolent.

    Good luck with that dignity and respect thing. I doubt you’ll ever get it from the kind of craven, power-hungry, self-centered lice who currently inhabit the Legislative and Executive branches of the government.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Well, Doug, that was way back in the B.W.G era [before Will & Grace]. W&G and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Ellen DeGeneres [or as my mother, in all innocence, calls her, ‘Ellen Degenerate’] did more than most politicians to improve the atmosphere.

    However, it’s true that you won’t find those kind of questionable, offensive anti-gay howlers in any Democratic platforms, certainly not in the last 30 years, or I assume ever. And Clavos and Dave know this, I imagine.

  • moonraven

    I think you guys are really missing a bet, here:

    Why not invite Larry Craig to this dominantly Republican site and have him join the circle jerk?

    Sounds like he’s ready to do a great job for you….