Question: What’s harder to get rid of than a cold? Answer: The Republicans getting rid of Senator Larry Craig.
It’s a story with (wide stance) legs. And a new allegation:
The male escort responsible for the downfall of Christian evangelist leader Ted Haggard is now alleging that embattled Senator Larry Craig also came to see him.
While promoting his new book during a radio interview with KNWQ-AM in Palm Springs Wednesday night, Mike Jones hesitated from making the allegation on the air.
Management for the radio station says Jones told them he would reveal something about Idaho Senator Larry Craig on the “Bulldog Bill Feingold Show.”
While he hesitated doing so on the air, a NewsChannel 3 camera was rolling when he made the accusation during a commercial break.
Feingold asked whether the Senator had seen Jones in a hotel room.
Jones responded, “No, he came to see me.”
Jones then added, “His travel records to Denver have been documented. That’s what I wanted to say.”
NewsChannel 3 asked Senator Craig’s office to comment on the allegations that Craig came to Denver to see Jones, who calls himself a gay escort.
Craig’s office said in response, “Mike Jones’ allegations are completely false.”
An allegation that will prove to be true? Or an allegation made to capitalize on a big story? No matter what, it remains an allegation.
But the case of Craig and the GOP is starting to resemble the classic comedy movie, “What About Bob.”
In that film, a psychiatrist played by Richard Dreyfus can’t get rid of his patient, played by Murray. Each time he thinks it’s over and he’s gotten rid of him, he shows up. And as the patient gets stronger, the psychiatrist gets weaker.
In case you’ve been on Mars — or visiting the Minneapolis airport restroom where Craig was arrested which has become a big tourist attraction (are pay toilets in its future?) — Craig, who pleaded guilty to disorderly bathroom conduct, had first said he would resign. But then he changed his mind about resigning and said he would wait to see what happened in his effort to try to get his guilty plea withdrawn. The judge said no so now Craig changed his mind about resigning if he lost in court and says he’ll stick out it out for the remainder of his term.
“As I continued to work for Idaho over the past three weeks here in the Senate, I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively,” Craig said in a statement. “I will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee – something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate.”
…..”I believe the best thing for him to do is keep his word,” said Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“It’s embarrassing for the Senate, it’s embarrassing for his party,” Ensign said.
Other GOP senators agreed. “He ought to keep his word,” said Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. And Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota said, “I thought the original decision was the right thing to do.”
(“Keeping his word”? Isn’t that asking Craig to do something politicians don’t do? )
The betting now is that GOPers will try to force Craig out via Senate Ethics Committee hearings, but that vote can’t lead to his expulsion — only censure – and there are no signs Craig intends to leave before he intends to leave.
Meanwhile, Craig’s decision to dig in his heels (versus tapping his foot three times which got him into trouble at the airport) has thrown the GOP in Idaho into a state of dismay:
“A lot of Republicans in Idaho think they need to sit down on a good shrink’s couch right now,” said Tracy Lotz, a vice-chairman of the state Republican Party until last year. “We’re in shock.”
Unaccustomed to political relevance, Idaho has endured more than a month of political parody – and that was before Craig provided new material by saying he would stay in office, after all.
Some profess a respect for Craig for showing an indigenous “moxie” in telling off the national Republicans who tried to force him out, and some insist he has done nothing wrong. Yet it is also clear from interviews with people across the state that Craig has lost considerable support as he attempts to finish out his term.
Many people say his repeated revision of his plans to serve and not serve has served only himself and has ruined his credibility.
“He’s using politics, and that’s not really what his roots are,” said Jim Warren, superintendent of the Midvale School District, where Craig, 62, attended a one-room schoolhouse until he was in the seventh grade. “People here really pride themselves on keeping their word.”
Right now the outlook is for Craig to remain with his name still in the headlines as the committee hearings unfold. Craig might also be expected to take some strong political stand or make some comments that help him be more known again as a Republican politician versus someone who hurriedly left a stall without flushing when a police credential was flashed at him.
One theory is that Craig and his associates believe he has nothing to lose if he stays. His state will surely vote for a Republican to succeed him, no matter whether it’s one who is appointed or one who follows him after his term. And, the theory goes, the jokes have run their course.