When a high-profile Republican runs into serious trouble, as Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) clearly has, he or she inevitably turns to a few reliable rejoinders that are supposed to help make things better. The first is “9/11 changed everything.” That probably won’t work in this case. The second is “Tempest in a teapot.” When an anti-gay senator pleads guilty to pursuing gay sex in an airport men’s room, dismissing it as trivia is a stretch.
And third is, “It’s the media’s fault.” This, apparently, is the new excuse d’jour.
[Craig] blamed the Idaho Statesman of Boise for his legal and political troubles stemming from his arrest in a sex-related matter at an airport men’s room in Minnesota in June.
He denounced the longstanding probes by the Statesman — he called it a “witch hunt” — for inspiring him to plead guilty to the offense even though he said he was actually innocent. He said he had been “viciously harassed” by the newspaper. “I am not gay,” he said twice. “I love my wife.”
Now, I can appreciate Craig’s desperation, which is probably clouding his judgment, but blaming the Idaho Statesman is transparently ridiculous. First, the paper hadn’t even published any stories about Craig’s homosexuality until after he was arrested, so it’s not as if news accounts led to undue pressure. And second, by the senator’s logic, the newspaper’s interest in his personal life caused him to plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit.
I’m afraid Craig is going to need a more coherent defense.