Most Senate Republicans want their Idaho colleague, Larry Craig, to just go and go soon. They have enough scandals in their ranks without Craig’s disagreeable little episode in an airport bathroom.
Privately, Senate Democrats would like to see him stay on to keep the scandal alive and help underline their contention that the GOP is the party of moral hypocrisy when it is not being the party of corruption.
As for Craig, he was going to go, but now he’s not so sure. Even as a relieved Senate GOP leader was announcing, “This episode is over,” Craig was amending his position to say that he had only announced his intent to resign on Sept. 30 and that now he may not.
Instead, the senator may seek to have his guilty plea to a misdemeanor in an undercover sex sting withdrawn and fight the disorderly-conduct charge in court. He has gone so far as to retain a criminal defense lawyer to try to do so on his behalf. He has also retained a lawyer to represent him in a Senate ethics committee investigation into the incident, the Senate GOP leadership’s default position should he not resign.
What apparently gave Craig hope was a Sunday TV appearance by Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in which the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee thought Craig should fight the charges, adding, “I think he could be vindicated.”
The only people who haven’t had their say in this case are the people of Idaho. This should-he-stay-or-should-he-go debate seems casually dismissive of the fact that they elected Craig to represent them, with 65 percent of the vote the last time.
Presumably they believe that whatever his personal failings, of which there have been rumors for some time, he had done a good job for them. He served six years in the Idaho state Senate, 10 years in the U.S. House and was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1990.
The Idaho voters deserve a say, maybe the deciding say, in Craig’s fate. If they want him out, they can rise up and demand he leave, even call for a recall vote. If they want to mull it over, he’s up for re-election next year. It should be the Idaho voters’ call.