NEW YORK TIMES: Just when Republicans thought things could not get any worse, Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex in June in a Minneapolis airport restroom. On Tuesday, Mr. Craig, 62, held a news conference to defend himself, calling the guilty plea “a mistake” and declaring, “I am not gay” — even as the Senate Republican leadership asked for an Ethics Committee review.
It was a bizarre spectacle, and only the latest in a string of accusations of sexual foibles and financial misdeeds that have landed Republicans in the political equivalent of purgatory, the realm of late-night comic television.
Forget Mark Foley of Florida, who quit the House last year after exchanging sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age male pages, or Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist whose dealings with the old Republican Congress landed him in prison. They are old news, replaced by a fresh crop of scandal-plagued Republicans, men like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number turned up on the list of the so-called D.C. Madam, or Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, both caught up in F.B.I. corruption investigations.
“The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness,” said Mr. Reed [Republican strategist], sounding exasperated in an interview on Tuesday morning. “You can’t make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country.”
Then again, Washington does not have a monopoly on the latest trend among Republicans. Just ask Thomas Ravenel, the state treasurer of South Carolina, who had to step down as state chairman of Rudolph W. Giuliani‘s presidential campaign after he was indicted on cocaine charges in June.
Or Bob Allen, a state representative in Florida who was jettisoned from the John McCain campaign last month after he was arrested on charges of soliciting sex in a public restroom.
Mr. Craig, for his part, has severed ties with the Mitt Romney campaign, despite his public declaration on Tuesday that “I did nothing wrong.”
In an interview Tuesday on “Kudlow and Company” on CNBC, Mr. Romney could not distance himself fast enough. “Once again, we’ve found people in Washington have not lived up to the level of respect and dignity that we would expect for somebody that gets elected to a position of high influence,” Mr. Romney said. “Very disappointing. He’s no longer associated with my campaign, as you can imagine.” [via the NEW YORK TIMES]
PAM’S HOUSE BLEND: “The Minnesota arrest is not a one-time occurrence,” Mike Rogers added. “Last October, I reported on three other encounters that Senator Craig had with men — including one in a bathroom in Washington’s Union Station.”
PAGE ONEQ: PageOneQ has received an exclusive copy of a letter written by Idaho GOP Senator and veteran Larry Craig to a constituent. The letter is dated just eleven days after his admission of guilt in connection with a Minnesota men’s room sex sting. It expresses Craig’s vehement opposition to repealing the US military’s embattled Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which bars gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving their country openly. The U.S. Senator from Idaho also sits on the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
GLENN GREENWALD: Delivers the ultimate smackdown to rightwing bloggers after reading this disgustingly pious concern being paraded about by all sorts of right-wing pundits over dragging sexual innuendo into the public arena and subjecting political officials to unpleasant personal attacks that would drive good people from office, and how can anyone let that raging, violent hypocrisy just go uncommented upon? Their entire political movement over the last 20 years has been fueled by sleazy sexual innuendo; dragging private sexual behavior into the public arena for fun, profit and political gain; and exploiting the gay issue to drive people to vote for them.