The current flap over Sen. Larry Craig, the Idaho Republican who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex in a Minneapolis airport men's room, raises a whole series of interesting questions and observations.
There is, first of all, the fate of Craig himself, who has announced his resignation, effective Sept. 30. The people of Idaho knew him as a married man with three children, and a good many of them will not take kindly to the discovery that he allegedly acted on homosexual impulses. (The senator stoutly denies he is "gay," and, as of this writing, is trying to retract his guilty plea, but the record speaks for itself.) As a purely political proposition, therefore, he is badly damaged goods, killing any re-election hopes.
The Democrats are entitled to the political benefits that will, accordingly, accrue to them. But it is interesting to note that most of them carefully avoid condemning Craig for the sexual traits that have upended him. The Democratic Party, after all, is the political home of the "gay lobby" and cannot afford to appear intolerant of so many constituents. Instead, the Democrats note Craig's record of vocal support for "family values," and in particular for the institution of marriage, and his resolute opposition to such pro-"gay" proposals as same-sex marriage and even the more innocuous "civil unions." This, they declare, opens him to the charge of "hypocrisy," which nowadays, as sexual and even financial standards are relaxed, is probably the gravest accusation in the whole lexicon of politics.
How could Craig, they demand, build a career on support for "family values" while secretly engaging in conduct so violative of those values? And then, having nailed Craig to the cross for this alleged hypocrisy, they quickly go on to suggest that the whole issue of "family values" has no business in our politics anyway. As Democratic political analyst Bob Becker declared triumphantly on a TV talk show the other day, "Those who live by family values die by family values."
It is, in other words, not Craig, and not even his alleged hypocrisy, that is the Democrats' real target here. It is "family values."
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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