Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, who was arrested for disorderly conduct June 11, has decided that he will remain in the Senate for the rest of his term. The decision comes after he announced that he would resign if the judge denied his request to withdraw his guilty plea last month.
Craig’s presence in Congress is not welcomed by his own party, and seems only to keep him in the news and in the punchlines of late night talk show hosts.
Craig stated in a Sept. 1 press release that he would resign on Sept. 30 if his request were denied. The judge did deny it, but Craig decided to stay in office, contradicting his previous promise.
“I have little control over what people choose to believe, but clearly my name is important to me and my family is so very important also,” he wrote. “Having said that, to pursue my legal options, as I continue to serve Idaho, would be an unwanted and unfair distraction of my job and for my Senate colleagues. These are serious times of war and of conflict – times that deserve the Senate’s and the full nation’s attention.”
The Republican party is in an uproar about his decision to stay. Senator John Ensign of Nevada, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, demanded that Craig keep his word and leave the Senate.
“The type of behavior we are talking about here is not exactly something that I think a senator should be engaged in,” said Ensign, according to the New York Times.
The Republican party is right, and Craig’s decision wrong. Leaving the Senate quietly is the most logical step for him to take.
By deciding to stick around until January 2009, he is drawing more attention to himself. The best way Craig can get out of the scandal is to remove himself from the limelight and allow himself to fade into obscurity in the eyes of the media.
“I am extremely disappointed with the ruling issued today,” Craig said in a statement. “I am innocent of the charges against me. I continue to work with my legal team to explore my additional legal options.”
The statement insinuates that Craig was sure his request to withdraw his guilty plea would be granted. He probably had no intention of leaving Congress.
If Craig believed so fervently he was innocent, then why would he sign a document stated that he wasn’t? He was arrested in June by Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Police for disorderly conduct in a public bathroom. He reportedly made sexual propositions to the man in the stall next to him, who happened to be an undercover police operator. In August, Craig pleaded guilty and paid the
“The defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of at least above average intelligence,” Charles Porter, the judge who denied Craig’s request, wrote in a 27-page order. “He knew what he was saying, reading and signing.”
It wasn’t until the news of the arrest got to the public that Craig started to say he was innocent and signed the legal document by mistake.
If Craig is innocent and did nothing at all in that fateful bathroom, then there is another question to be asked: What kind of senator accidentally signs a legal document without understanding what it entails?
Either way, Craig’s political career is over. He should stop scratching at the wound and definitely stop adding salt to it. He should get out of Washington at once and try to do anything that does not involve the government or bathroom stalls.
Candace Kaw is a junior majoring in mass communications and history.