Three Cheers for the Libido, as Entrapment Downs Senator Craig

Larry Craig has gone, forced out by a frantic Republican leadership. None will cheer more loudly than the survivors of those endangered and depleted species this serf of the mining and timber companies spent much of his career depleting with one legislative barrage after another. Better that he would have been gored or stomped, than finally cut down by an undercover cop way over the border line of entrapment.

Actually, I think a good lawyer could have got Craig off, if it hadn’t been for the panic-stricken Guilty plea copped by Craig already frantic that local paper was about to out him. The cop, Dave Karsnia, entrapped him. It’s not against the constitution, at least yet, to adopt a wide stance. All he did was stamp his foot and waggle it about and put his hand down. It’s not as though he made any verbal suggestions to Karsnia, or exhibited his genitals. Karsnia says he was peeping. That’s just the word of a policeman against a US senator. Senators probably have a better record for keeping their word–at least in political bargains, tho not in campaign promises–than the folks in blue.

When people whine fearfully about the Christian right, I always tell them to relax. Sooner or later the evangelist or the pol be caught in a whorehouse or a public convenience. With closet Republicans on the Hill, all the Democrats need to do is load some nice looking lad on the plane the pol takes home each week, and just wait for nature to take its course.

The casualty list of senior Republican politicians nailed for frequenting hookers, propositioning policemen, sending hot emails to page boys and so forth is beginning to look like one of those interminable genealogies in Chronicles or the Book of Kings. The name of David Vitter, Louisiana’s Republican senator, was recently discovered on the “DC Madam’s” escort service list. Vitter was regional chair of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign. Last year, two congressmen, Mark Fowley (R-FL) and Don Sherwood (R-PA), lost their House seats because of problematic interactions with underage male interns (Fowley) and adultery (Sherwood).

At least Vitter and Sherwood were nailed for what Republicans used to categorize as natural practices, and so the Republican leadership didn’t try to force Vitter out. But many of the Republican fallen are closet cases, repressed and desperate, battling Sodom by day in the halls of Congress, by night trolling for rough trade in Gomorrah. They gave the liberating Seventies a wide birth, hammered faggotry at a thousand prayer breakfasts, fought to protect Family Values. What does them down is usually some high-odds piece of risk-taking, sexually exciting until the moment the object of desire flashes his Police ID and the jig is up.

Larry Craig of Idaho was a three-term senator. En route to this sanctuary of Republican virtue on June 11 Craig, co-chair of the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, used a stop-over at Minneapolis-St Paul airport to prowl through a lavatory in the Lindbergh terminal. He spotted under a stall door lower extremities belonging to a man we now know to have been undercover cop Karsnia, who–patient as any spider–had been sitting on the john for 13 minutes, waiting for prey which he could entrap

Americans following the case have learning with fascination how easily some innocent action in a public convenience–known in the argot of gay patrons as “tearooms” — can be misconstrued. Don’t put your bag in front of the door. That’s what Craig did and Karsnia, a youthful-looking blonde decoy, says in his report, “My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall. ” Keep your feet still. “At 12:16 hours,” Karsnia relates, ” Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area.”
Craig then swiped his hand under the stall divider several times. That did it. Karsnia put down his police ID for Craig to check out. Craig quickly plead guilty to disorderly conduct and “peeping”, which is defined in Minnesotan statutory lingo as “interference with privacy by surreptitiously gazing, staring or peeping in the window, or other aperture of a sleeping room in a hotel, a tanning booth this is Minnesota, after all]or other place where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy and has exposed or is likely to expose their intimate parts, as defined in Sec. 609. 341, subd 5, or the clothing covering the immediate area of the intimate parts and doing so with the intent to intrude upon or interfere with the privacy of the occupant. A Gross Misdemeanor.”

Craig copped a $500 fine and hoped no one would notice. No one did for a few weeks until someone leaked the story to the Capitol Hill paper, Roll Call. Craig tried to back into his guilty plea, saying it’s all a dreadful misunderstanding and that he traditionally “adopts a wide stance” in public lavatories.

At some level Craig obviously wanted to get caught, just as compulsive gamblers at some level want to lose.

Republicans, barely recovered from the Foley scandal a year ago, wanted Craig out. Then they try to change the subject to Monica Lewinsky and say that it’s all the fault of Democrats who have corrupted America’s moral fiber for so long that even honorable men like Craig are unable to resist the beckoning finger of Temptation.

Craig’s been touted as a closet case for years, hence targeted by militant gays as a public figure who should be outed because of his support for laws penalizing homosexuals. A well-known senator from the south-east is now being battered by rumors that he too will be outed soon. This would bring the Republican casualty list of fallen gays in the US Senate to three in a year, an amazing rate of attrition in an institution where the advantages of incumbency are almost insuperable.


Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined!, A Colossal Wreck and An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents are available from CounterPunch.