Federal Government

Craig Departure Like A Public Hanging

The city-owned Boise Depot was closed for a private wedding as usual Saturday when the national media crowded the parking lot for the Old West style public hanging of Senator Larry Craig who resigned his office.

The Old Pen would have been a more appropriate site for the historical event, but the Boise Depot is as close as we come to a town square for public events like hangings. The mood was somewhat somber–not unlike a real hanging–as preachers from the right did serious interviews with the network newsies while everyone was resigned to the facts about to unfold.
A couple of surprise players also appeared including Idaho Education Chief Tom Luna and Gov. Butch Otter along with their respective wives.

With Craig’s wife and her adult children, the guv, and all the microphones crowded around the podium, the event had all the earmarks of a post election victory dance–no doubt a look the Republicans sought. It was more like a funeral wake.
There was a non-media crowd of about 100 curious folks who lounged on the steps of the depot where there were no rest rooms or water available. A few people carried signs calling Craig a “pervert,” others were there as supporters. Even the supporters could more accurately be termed “sympathizers.”

Many people were probably waiting to set up or attend a private wedding that had been scheduled months in advance. This will be the only couple in the world to claim they were married on the site where a U.S. Senator resigned several hours earlier after being arrested in a toilet.
The media people had giant trucks jammed full of video gear, the radio reporters were doing live reports on cell phones and the still photogs were jockeying for position. A kitchen step stool had an official looking sign in Old English Script proclaiming it to be “New York Times.”
Craig stood out in the crowd–and for good reason. Even though his is well over 6 ft. tall he stood on a riser which made him appear taller.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. That was so staged! A made-for-TV-damage-control-event. Wasn’t it odd there was no PA system? I know the guardian loves the clear air view from that vantage point, but too bad there wasn’t a bunch of smoke in the background today.

  2. Isn’t the Republican Party all about taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions? I believe so.

    Odd then, Larry Craig does whatever he can to place blame firmly at the feet of others. Did the Statesman arrest him? No they did not.

    Larry Craig was arrested for a misdemeanor crime and he pled guilty to that crime. A multi term US Senator does not need an attorney to know how to deal with such an event.

    Larry Craig is a bright man, too bad he thinks we are all dummies.

  3. You think it was staged? You mean a press conference in which you invite the national media would be staged? Great reporting, Mr. Woodward!
    The only thing more staged than the staged press conference were the three homeless ladies holding those signs. What, did the Boise Weekly pay them 13 bucks an hour so they could steal them from picketing across from the Owyhee Plaza Hotel?

  4. No matter which side of the aisle you sit on it was a sad moment in Idaho history. The only good that might come out of this is for our leaders to understand that they had better be honest with us voters.

    If Craig was falsely arrested, and he squared with the voters instead of hiding it, many of us would have been behind him in the fight… But to hide the arrest and then say he was falsely arrested and blame the Statesmen…. well you City and State leaders… see what happened

    Dang and I’m so disappointed about Brandi not running….

  5. Colleen Fellows
    Sep 1, 2007, 6:33 pm

    There were people at the press conference to support Craig, but I noticed several absences. Where were Crapo, Simpson and Risch?
    Although some people do have sympathy for Craig, most people are still having trouble identifying with the situation he is in. It’s not as if the average person can say, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

    I understand Craig has hired Michael Vick’s attorney in his attempt to reverse his guilty plea. Isn’t there an attorney available somewhere out there not linked to such a noteworthy client?

  6. Yep, it was a hanging.
    Basically, the news media, bloggers, public and his own R’s hanged him — but he had kept handing them more rope.

    When he pleaded guilty and then gave all the funky excuses, he yanked the “drop ’em” lever himself.
    It’s sad, but he created his own noose, so it’s difficult to feel totally sorry for him.

  7. And one more thing:
    In all the blogging, public pontificating, etc., nobody seems to be talking about one thing that I find disturbing.
    The law.
    Arrested for making “signs” that might mean, hey, buddy, want to hook up?

    As a First Amendment fan (disclosure: long-time journalist), I always thought free speech included sign language. Apparently not, eh?
    While I’m not defending the method, and I don’t think a public restroom is the best place to seek a liaison, how different is it, really, than hitting on someone (whether same or opposite sex) in a bar or other place open to the public?

    If Larry had simply walked up to the guy (if the guy ever comes out of that booth???) and said, hey, you’re cute, wanna make out? or something equally blatant, would the same law apply, or would it be free speech? If he’d offered dinner and a drink first? Or maybe a movie? If he’d signaled to an “opposite sex” being, would that be different?

    Quick survey: How many of you (OK, which one of you, if any) have/has never approached someone with the intent of getting acquainted and secretly hoping it would lead to something sexual? Aw, c’mon, saying no will make you sound like Larry.


  8. I also found Luna as a surprise….


  9. I don’t get what you’re saying boiserider. Are you goofing on me for pointing out the obvious? Sadly, I don’t think productions like that ARE obvious to many people.

    Regarding your comment about the homeless ladies; I was there, I saw them, I spoke with them and I’m certain they were NOT homeless. I’m certain they were NOT paid to be there either. I was there to jeer Craig and nobody paid me.

    I can’t help wondering why he didn’t just come out of the closet and announce his resignation from a gay bar and then go on the comedy circuit. Really, what’s he gonna do now? I don’t think anyone wants to touch him with a, ahem, 10 foot pole.

  10. cynic, my point was regarding the obvious statement.

    I was kidding about the sign folks. Of course they weren’t homeless, I mean any sane person could tell that they were the road crew for Lilith Fair.

    This chapter’s over and it is time to move on. Hopefully he can acknowledge and move on as well.

  11. Colleen Fellows
    Sep 1, 2007, 11:31 pm

    I guess I did wonder why the police officer didn’t wait till the “perp” tried to enter his stall in order to have an open and shut case. It makes sense that it would be the act itself, not the suggestion of the act that would be illegal.

  12. Colleen Fellows
    Sep 1, 2007, 11:46 pm

    Speaking of the riser Craig stood on, pretty peculiar, as the speech he gave wasn’t the type a politician usually gives from atop his soapbox.

  13. boisecynic
    I wouldn’t spend a lot of time worrying about what Craig is going to do. First the congress has a great retirement plan. He is set for life
    Second my bet is a deal was cut with the Rep. party to use him…. quitely on many issues. Craig has spent many years in the Senate and still has many IOU’s out there. Give him a year and I’ll bet you $100 that you will see his name on the door of a law firm in Boise or in Washington DC!

    I will use the example of good old Bob Packwood…Soon after leaving the Senate, Packwood founded a lobbying firm called Sunrise Research Corporation. Among other projects, he played a key role in the 2001 fight to repeal the estate tax.

    Don’t worry about members that have been kicked out of the club. In some ways they are now set free to make more money than ever!

  14. Gordon, you make a good point. However, the real “crime” here is Craig’s hypocrisy and denial. He needs psychological counseling, in my opinion. This case is not closed. Craig is on probation and I hope the Judge is watching all this and taking in Craig’s continuing denial and lack of remorse.

    Back to the 1st amendment thingy, there ARE laws against “public” sex, and to the best of my knowledge there has never been a successful constitutional challenge to such laws. Sex most certainly would have occured after the “signaling” was complete. However, the cops are not required nor allowed to go all the way.

    Here’s another point I haven’t heard from anyone. Let’s say you gotta go really bad. You enter the restroom and all the stalls are occupied by people giving speeches about the first amendment. You say “I really need to go right now” but the people refuse to budge. Has a crime been committed?

    Regardless of my poor attempt at humor, it’s quite frustating (to put it mildly) to be in a public place, having “to go,” and having nowhere “to go.” Know what I mean? We’ve all been in that situation, right? If I found out the stalls were being used for something other than their intended purpose while I’m waiting with cramps, I’d be tempted to commit yet another crime. Assault.

  15. Boiserider seems to be a tad sensitive about the “pervert” language.

    And I agree with Gordan. The cop needed to do some more work before flashing the badge (though I fully understand why he’d be reluctant to do so).

    There was no crime committed, though I’m positive Larry would have willingly provided the evidence if given the opportunity.

  16. political geek
    Sep 2, 2007, 10:34 am

    Mike Crapo was at his daughters wedding in Washington DC. (NOT the one at the depot! ha)

  17. Steve Ackerman
    Sep 2, 2007, 3:16 pm

    I completely agree with Ferris B’s comment regarding Senator Craig’s attack on the Statesman — the Senator was wrong to do that. Beyond that, however, Ferris B needs to show a little perspective and a little compassion.

    First, I didn’t agree with everything Craig stood for — especially immigration. And I also don’t walk in lock step with the Republican Party, or any other party for that matter. But he served Idaho for almost 30 years and that means he was elected by the people of Idaho. If you attack him and the party he represents enough, you eventually attack the people that voted for him. Do those attackers respect them or not?

    Second, there are a lot of politicians Democrat and Republican who have not matched their public rhetoric with their private behavior. At the same time, we’re voyeristically wanting to know more and more about the private habits of these politicians, while wanting them to look better on TV than to bring us substance and frankness. “The fault, my dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves,” to quote a rather famous writer.

    I suggest we step back and try to learn the lessons of Craig, Foley, McGreevey, Clinton, etc. instead of becoming the almighty harbingers of all that is good.

    Craig’s early resignation and admitted guilt are the silver linings in an otherwise sad chapter. Yet it is only a chapter of a larger book. The man, whatever his faults and failings, did something most people on these postings and most readers of this and other publications are either too afraid or too lazy to do — run for office to serve the public.

  18. I’m not sensitive to that language, the guy obviously has some issues and things he needs to work through. It is a life lesson, be who you really are.

    The guy has resigned and won’t be a Senator anymore so he did what the majority of the people wanted him to do. I’m sure that there will be those Bill Cope types that will see to it that we don’t move forward despite the counter-intuitive “progressive” badge worn by many.

  19. “I’m sure that there will be those Bill Cope types that will see to it that we don’t move forward despite the counter-intuitive “progressive” badge worn by many.”

    You’ll need to define your meaning of “move forward” before I have any freakin’ clue about what that sentence means.

  20. He served the people of Idaho?
    My understanding is that on emigration, war in Iraq and many other issue’s. He was serving someone else. Not Idahoans.
    It was time for him to go. Do we believe Otter will make the right decision on his replacement. Noooo it will be a party decision. Not for the people of Idaho.

  21. I find a bit of sympathy on a human level for Craig; a man who in a dark moment of indescretion damaged an entire career.
    However, his hypocrisy knows no bounds. As a conservative Republican he used his power to oppresss a minority class of people in this country, and even after being caught red handed (so to speak) he continues to stand in defiant gesture toward his own nature.
    Many Idahoans I think are full of hypocrisy as well, and contribute to the problem. I get sick of hearing people call into radio shows or even on this message board say that the problem isn’t that he’s gay but more what he did and that he lied. What bunch of crap. If he were to just come out and say “hey, i’m gay but I would like to continue being your senator” the fine people of this state would run him out of office in a hurry.
    I also think that the Republican party really showed its true colors when they so viciously turned on their long time friend and colleague. It was a stark display of loyalty being trumped by politics.

  22. Sam the sham
    Sep 4, 2007, 12:51 pm

    Craig can now stand with George Hansen in Idaho’s great Hall of Shame. As I recall, they both belong to the same party and served themselves well…so at least two people from Idaho were served by these two “great Idahoans”.

  23. Gordon, you make a good point. People hit on each other all time (usually in bars but sometimes at parties and in supermarkets). As long as they don’t have sex in public, it’s not a problem. If you hit on someone in a bathroom, why is that necessarily in and of itself against the law?

    Craig had his best chance to defend himself prior to pleading guilty, if he really believed he was innocent. What has the world come to if you can be arrested for seeking sex in a public restroom just because you tap your foot or it wanders into the next stall? Some stalls are extremely narrow. If you took it to trial, you would have a good chance of establishing that tapping your foot, etc., isn’t enough to establish that you want sex – that you need to do something more overt.

    Of course, if Craig would have defended himself in court, The Statesman would likely have published Pokey’s anonymous source story, all the old and new rumors would have come out and the result would have been the same, it just would have taken a year or so. Someone might have been able to pull off such a defense 10 years ago, but in the age of the Internet, open rumors both true and untrue would have put a trial in a very different context. Either way, Craig would have been too weakened to seek reelection.

    Also, I have to wonder if Craig would been treated differently – if he would have treated himself differently – if his sexual tendencies were heterosexual and he was busted for soliciting a female prostitute. Would it have made a difference? I want to think not, but something tells me it would have been easier for him somehow.

  24. I thought Sen. Craig handled the announcement about as well as he could, under the circumstances. The only way he could make it worse would be to announce that yet again he didn’t really mean it and might not resign after all. Oh wait…..

  25. Wonk, I think the legality of the issue is only a sidenote to all of this. Whether what he did is legal or not the good people of Idaho will not stand for a Senator who seeks gay sex in a public restroom or anywhere else for that matter.
    And yes, if he were seeking a hookup with a woman instead of a man it would make a huge difference. We already have recent examples of Republican politicians caught in heterosexual encounters such as this, but they weren’t run from office.

  26. curious george
    Sep 5, 2007, 9:25 am

    And now the other shoe drops…

    Craig’s now saying that the operative phrase at the press conference was “I intend” – stressing that he did not say, “I will”, “I shall”, or “I plan” on resigning.

    I’ve been quiet on this issue until now, since if George Wallace could resurrect his political career, so can someone like Craig. I was waiting for the pictures of him holding hands with his “good friend” at the next Log Cabin Republican gathering.

    What few people in Idaho realize is that the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area is home to the largest, most open, and most supportive gay community in the U.S. – outside of San Francisco. It is also, thanks to its Scandinavian roots, a fairly reserved place. It’s not surprising to me that a city that voted into office an openly gay city councilman at the height of the AID’s scare (Minneapolis, in the late 1980’s) also draws a strict line between those places set aside for business and those set aside for pleasure.

    Personally, I think that if Craig is pinning his hopes on a Minneapolis judge throwing out his guilty plea – he (and his legal team) have mis-read the situation. Any prosecuting attorney will tell you that having a man of Scandinavian (or German) descent on a jury bodes well for a guilty verdict. We (for I am a scandahoovian, and former Minneapolis resident) are a strict people – a guilty plea means “you are guilty by your own admission”. Honestly, why would a cop arrest you if you weren’t guilty – that’s the little Norwegian on my sholder speaking.

    It looks like Craig will now do everything he can to serve out his term, so the history books won’t put an asterisk next to his name (it just won’t be for juicing).

    Truly unfortunately, Idahoans won’t get much “representation” over the next year and a half from a man hellbent on writing his own version of history – plus, his fellow republicans have already stripped him of his committee postings (it won’t matter that he’ll be sitting in the Senate Chambers if he’s prevented from having a hand in the crafting of bills). He will be seen as the quintissential, corrupted Washington insider – political poison ivy.

  27. Hats off to Larry. He’s reconsidering the resignation. It doesn’t get any better than this. Maybe he’ll even change his views on the hot button “social” issues.

  28. Well, whatever sympathy I had for Craig has, so to speak, gone down the toilet. What an egotistical phony. For the Democrats, however, it doesn’t get much better than this. I think we won’t be hearing about “family values” next year from the Republicans.

  29. Craig has simply fallen into desperation. He can’t face that his long political career will be wrapped up by scandal, so he chooses to waste tax payer time and money in a lame attempt to turn the tide. However, it just can’t happen now. Even if the Minneapolis court retracted the guilty plea, which seems doubtful, there will still always linger the notion of what he did and who he is. He has become pathetic.

  30. shealyisnottheantichrist
    Sep 5, 2007, 1:20 pm

    It may be that Craig would like to have some say over who replaces him, and he has to flex his muscles to make his views known to the powers that be.
    Who can know what kind of pressures the governor is under right now as well? I would bet the phone wires from D.C. and the Republican HQ to Boise are a little hot right now.
    As a former Minnesotan who spent some time in an Ada County courtroom, anything could happen there. It’s a crap shoot.

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