Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Larry Craig's Seinfeld Defense: Can You Spare A Square?

Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig is in the death spiral so familiar to us these days, a public figure who's going down, down, down in the media whirlpool.

After pleading guilty to disorderly conduct for his activities in a Minneapolis Airport men's room, Craig is now proclaiming his innocence, but more importantly--for him--that "I AM NOT GAY." His Republican allies have completely abandoned him. (We do hope that fellow GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, also reputed to be a closet gay, will come to his defense.)

For a pretty hilarious take on Craig's "not gay" press conference yesterday, take a look at today's Washington Post column from Dana Milbank, "A Senator's Wide Stance: 'I Am Not Gay.'" (For example, Milbank points out that Craig started his news conference by thanking everyone for "coming out").

If Craig had any balls at all, he'd stop the additional gay-bashing that is a trademark of the Republicans (jumped on by Mitt Romney in dismissing Craig from his campaign and calling him "disgusting") and instead defend the poor men who are so discriminated against that they are forced into sleazy bathroom hook-ups where they risk being arrested.

Don't expect that, of course.

Instead, Craig says he's hired an attorney to review his guilty plea. Sorry, Larry--too late. What good is that going to do you now, even if it works? Your secret is out.

Here's what undoubtedly happened. Craig got caught with his pants down--literally--by a cop in the Minneapolis Airport. It wasn't the first time Craig had done this kind of thing--we'll be hearing about a good many more over the next few days. So, he figured, he might as well plead guilty to a lesser offense and, more importantly, hope that it all was kept quiet.

About any decent attorney, of course, would've told Craig that notwithstanding being caught red-handed--so to speak--the facts could be argued to be innocent. Some kind of misunderstanding. After all, he didn't actually say to the cop, "hey, you want to have sex?" Of course, going to trial would have involved some uncomfortable publicity, but at least Craig would be vindicated by a jury.

In fact, we would have liked to have taken the case. "Your honor, it's well known that President Lyndon B. Johnson frequently went into a bathroom stall and continued to conduct business, talking to others outside. Senator Craig obviously was just trying to strike up a conversation with a regular American to see what he thought about things."

Or better yet, invoke (or evoke, as the case may be) a famous "Seinfeld" episode in which Elaine finds herself in a bathroom stall with no toilet paper. Plaintively asking the woman in the next stall, "can you spare a square," Elaine puts her hand under the divider as the other woman swears she cannot spare even a single square of tissue.

Hey, same thing here. Poor Senator Craig just needed some toilet tissue for his tushy. First, because you never know, he peaked into the occupied stall to make sure there was some toilet paper there, just in case he would need it. Then, sure enough, after entering the adjacent stall, he made the awful discovery that there wasn't any toilet tissue. So he tried to get the other guy's attention. First, he touched the next guy's shoe with his. That didn't work, so he tapped his right foot impatiently (note to Curmudgeon file: when in public toilet, don't tap foot to the muzak!). Still, no response. So he put his hand under the stall. And when that didn't work, he went to what always works for a Senator: he put his business card down and said "what do you think about that." Surely, the next guy over would give him some toilet tissue if he knew it was a U.S. Senator that was in need!

But no. The stingy cop who couldn't even spare a square turns around and arrests the beleagured Senator, who then fears that the folks in a lefty-liberal state like Minnesota will certainly misconstrue what happened. So he pleads guilty.

Some country, eh, where a perfectly heterosexual white guy from Idaho, a pillar of the community, a public servant who has done his best to save the nation from creeping gay-ness, can be arrested and pilloried simply for trying to get a square of toilet tissue.

Let this be a lesson to all of us: when travelling, always--ALWAYS--take with you one of those little packets of tissues.

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