"When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state," wrote Shakespeare. Sen. Larry Craig knows today whereof the bard spoke.
Rarely has a United States senator fallen so fast from grace or been so completely abandoned.
As the nation now knows, Craig was arrested in June in an airport men's room in Minneapolis, charged with propositioning an undercover cop, who was on duty there because the place had become notorious.
According to the officer, Craig, in the next stall, flashed known signals of a man seeking anonymous and immediate sex.
Rather than fight the charge, Craig pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor. This week, the story exploded and Craig is fighting what appears a losing battle for his career and reputation.
In a statement carried nationally, he declared his innocence of any allegation of immoral conduct. I did nothing wrong, I am not gay, he said again and again.
Yet it requires a suspension of disbelief to accept the complete innocence of Sen. Craig. After all, he pleaded guilty, and for years similar rumors have swirled about him. The Idaho Statesman has produced a tape of a man who claims to have had a recent sexual encounter with Craig in a men's room at Union Station in Washington, D.C.
Craig denies all and calls the Statesman investigation of his private life, going all the way back to college days, a witch hunt. In his favor, after 300 interviews, the Statesman came up with nothing solid save the Union Station allegation and the airport incident.
As ever, such episodes reveal almost as much about the accusers as about the accused.
Reveling in Craig's disgrace, the liberal media not only cast the first stone, but most of them. They are mocking Craig as a family-values hypocrite who indulges privately in conduct he publicly condemns. But even assuming Craig has led a second and secret life, would that automatically make him a hypocrite, a fraud, an Elmer Gantry?
Is there no possibility a man can believe in traditional morality, yet find himself tempted to behavior that morally disgusts him? Is it impossible Craig is driven by impulses, the biblical "thorn in the flesh," of which Paul wrote, to behavior he almost cannot control?
Why else would a United States senator take the incredible risk of disgracing himself and humiliating his family, and ending his career, for a few minutes of anonymous sex in an airport men's room?
Is every alcoholic who falls off the wagon a hypocrite if he has tried to warn kids of the evil of alcohol? Many men have tried to live good lives and fallen again and again. They are called sinners.