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August 31, 2007

A Hypothetical

What would happen if Larry Craig came out as a gay man, apologized for his tortured life in the closet and the unseemly things his personal conflicts made him do, and then said that, nevertheless, he'd always been a good and dedicated senator to the people of Idaho, and he meant to retain his seat and keep fighting for the upward redistribution and failed wars (or whatever) that first turned him onto public service?

He might lose the next election, of course. But maybe he wouldn't. And maybe he'd tap into an unexpected wellspring of libertarian attitudes and relative tolerance. Why not try?

August 31, 2007 | Permalink


In Idaho? In the modern-day GOP?? What have you been smoking? In any case, I think it's pretty obvious that Craig is unwilling/unable to accept who he is, and that probably won't change.

Posted by: beckya57 | Aug 31, 2007 2:39:17 PM

He might, but you have to imagine it's going to be pretty difficult to shed the habits of though and action that have defined him for what sounds like all of his adult life.

Posted by: TW Andrews | Aug 31, 2007 2:40:28 PM

Because that would be asking for a humilating and probably unavoidable [primary?] defeat. Plus, I feel like Craig is so deep in the closet that he actually thinks he is straight. But yeah, the hypothetical is nice.

Posted by: Eric the Political Hack | Aug 31, 2007 2:41:27 PM

Given what open, socially progressive cats Idahoans tend to be, I'm sure this plan would meet with nothing but success.

Would he be incorporating his "Jenny Craig" drag persona into his campaign? They'll go nuts for that.

Posted by: Walter | Aug 31, 2007 2:42:45 PM

Okay, it's possible this plan isn't really about helping Craig retain his seat, but testing the intolerance of the GOP...

Posted by: Ezra | Aug 31, 2007 2:47:38 PM

I mentioned this possibility on Yglesias's blog, and the idea wasn't thought very feasible. I made the point that one often hears about how libertarian is the strain of Mountain/West conservatism, and that this would be a good time to find out if the concept has any validity or not.

I think the problem for Craig now is the sordidness of the events, more so than his homosexuality. Had he come out prior to getting into the restroom trouble and announced to the voters he wanted to continue to represent them, he'd be in a better position. At the end of the day, the reality is he's now a tragic, pathetic and hypocritical figure, and he'll be stripped of whatever clout he had, and rational voters will rightly want someone else in the Senate -- someone who can more effectively bring federal largess back to Idaho.

Posted by: Jasper | Aug 31, 2007 2:55:10 PM

I don't think Republicans are the only ones intolerant of years of lies and hypocrisy, which your scenario implies admitting to.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 31, 2007 3:06:52 PM

Craig could maybe have done that back a few months ago when the rumors were swirling, but now after the sleazy bathroom incident he has been outed as not only as a homosexual but a dirty perv to boot.

Posted by: Jason G. | Aug 31, 2007 3:10:57 PM

Or: he could argue vehemently for the act-identity distinction. Or he could undergo a very public process of therapy with Exodus International!

Posted by: posthegemony | Aug 31, 2007 3:16:00 PM

and the unseemly things his personal conflicts made him do

Wait, the conflicts "made" him do it now? Obviously, he's acting out, but he's a grown man with as much free will as the rest of us.

Posted by: JewishAtheist | Aug 31, 2007 3:41:31 PM

Why not try?

Because it ain't just a river in Egypt.

Posted by: Sangfroid826 | Aug 31, 2007 4:07:36 PM

Here's my $0.02. There are tons of men in the US and elsewhere, very many married - or were so - who have anonymous sex with other men in all sorts of semi-public places (not indoors in bedrooms or living room floors, usually, because that is too intimate in the senses of nakedness and overtness). Most swear they are straight because they think they are and strongly deny (backed by fists if necessary) they are 'gay'. There really aren't bi-sexual either in the sense that gay and bi are positive acknowledgements of orientation.

We don't have a consistent way of talking about them, but they really do exist, in surprising numbers. Not gay, not bi, and really not straight. They live their in their own private Idahos which take place in tearooms, alleys, parks, freeway rest areas, public parking garages, behind bars, etc.

One can't 'come out' to this reality, because these men (I've never heard of the female counterpart, if it exists) are in nearly complete denial - but who knows what they acknowledge mentally to themselves - to others.

This, IMO, is a disease of repression, and its deep repression. The disease is not the sex acts themselves, or their need for them, but the complete lack of self-knowledge or awareness. Often alcohol or drugs are 'blamed' for those incidents that they allow themselves to think about. It is a sad, very sad, existence.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Aug 31, 2007 4:14:54 PM

Why doesn't he come out of the closet? Because I don't think he realizes he's even in the closet. He probably doesn't think of himself as gay, and doesn't think of his men's activities (if he thinks of them at all) as being particularly gay, either. That's pathetic, I know, but I think it's likely to be true. The human mind is capable of unbelievable feats of denial.

Posted by: Kathy G. | Aug 31, 2007 4:18:15 PM

LOL! Who would vote for him? There are no true libertarians, just glibertarians, like instapundit.

And insty isn't enought to win an election.

Posted by: Dan | Aug 31, 2007 4:20:45 PM

I assume that closeted gays overwhelming succeed in staying in the closet. Making Craig the one in ten (counting AC/DCs for sure) who just happened to get caught. What is the big deal? Would we really want the other 9 gay Senators or the 43 to 44 gay congresspersons to resign if we could just figure out who they were? :-) Much ado about nothing but personal embarrassment.

Posted by: Denis Drew | Aug 31, 2007 4:24:17 PM

Doubtful, Ezra. Even taking the sleazy aspect of the setting in which he was charged, and the dubious denials that followed aside. If I mentally transplant Larry Craig to Colorado - trending more purple than red - I still can't see it working. We are very much live, and let live, out here. But it's really bad news to pretend to be something you're not, and get caught out. Folks have a really looong memory for deceit. Lots of business arrangements still happen on a handshake in the rural parts of the state, but because they do, your 'word' trumps just about everything else. Break it, and folks hold it against you. Craig could redeem himself, perhaps, by returning to state government for awhile, and earn his way out. Redemption in this part of the world is real enough, but 'rehab' happens in the public eye, not in some swank spa somewhere.

Posted by: mk | Aug 31, 2007 4:30:16 PM

There are parts of the Mountain West that are libertarian. Idaho is not one of them; as I understand it, it has a substantial Mormon population and that militates against libertarianism. If Larry Craig was a Senator from another state in the MW, he might have more of a shot.

Posted by: S. Tarzan | Aug 31, 2007 4:32:22 PM

He's going to follow the party's orders, quit on a slow news day, and collect his prize as a lobbyist. If he fights the party he can't cash in at the end.

Posted by: chris | Aug 31, 2007 4:37:35 PM

He would probably lose the election, yes, but the outcome will be the same if he does what he's been doing now.

The guy's political career is dead either way, so why is he not admitting that he's gay? Because, as kathy G. points out, he doesn't think he is gay and doesn't identify that way.

Posted by: Tyro | Aug 31, 2007 4:46:39 PM

I taught at Idaho State University for three years. Idaho is something like 75% LDS; some towns are nearly 100% LDS. The anti-gay feeling there you would not believe. (Ho, I could not believe the anti-Native American feeling. Or the Anti-Feminist feeling.) I have nothing against the LDS, and I mean that; some of my best students were in Idaho, and LDS folk did all sorts of good things for us when we were there. But there are lines that don't get crossed.

Posted by: delagar | Aug 31, 2007 6:48:49 PM

Delagar, the Mormon population in Idaho is under 25%. Around Idaho State is might be higher, maybe around 50%.

Posted by: Sanpete | Aug 31, 2007 7:12:49 PM

JimPortlandOR put it better than me, but men like Craig don't stay in the closet and get married for political purposes. They stay in the closet because they are self-loathing. They are in denial about their sexual urges. Craig won't come out until he deals with that.

You have to come out to yourself before you can come out others.

Posted by: Narc | Aug 31, 2007 7:24:30 PM

ezra -- if pigs had wings and if wishes were horses and all that.

jim -- i've read a lot of posts and comments about the craig thing, but your comment about private idahos was the first time i've seen that phrase in anything about this.

Posted by: harry near indy | Aug 31, 2007 7:55:01 PM

Someone on Wonkette offered the best approach. Instead of resigning, Craig ought to announce that he's switching parties.

Posted by: gjdodger | Sep 1, 2007 9:39:13 AM

Sanpete -- 25%? Well, I see that's what it says on Wikipedia, and I followed up their link, which cites a survey that claims it's reliable, so okay. From my years in the state, and having worked with students from all over, that doesn't sound right to me, though. Granted, my students mostly came from rural areas, so maybe I just got one side of the picture.

Posted by: delagar | Sep 1, 2007 10:08:32 AM

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