Larry Craig resigned from the Senate today, effective September 30, saying that he wants to “pursue [his] legal options.” Perhaps, like O.J., he will devote his efforts to finding the real rest room footsie-player. Craig’s web site includes a “Q & A” about matters relating to his resignation. The Q & A suggests that he may be about to “begin [his] legal defense” in Minnesota. It seems a little late for that, considering his guilty plea three weeks ago.
We have commented from time to time on the “non-apology apology.” This has become the predominant form of mea culpa by people in public life. For example, instead of apologizing for something he said, a politician will most likely say “I’m sorry that you misunderstood my comment.” Craig took the non-apology apology to a new level in his press conference a few days ago, when he apologized, not for anything that happened in the airport men’s room, but for the fact that he improvidently pled guilty to disturbing the peace.
Under the circumstances, it is easy to ridicule Craig. Easy, but not very productive. I think it is more useful to defend him against the principal charge leveled against him by liberals: hypocrisy. The conventional claim made by liberals who ought, in principle, to be sympathetic to Craig if he is indeed gay, is that he is a “hypocrite” because he has not supported political causes like gay marriage.
This, however, is a non sequitur. Homosexual legislators are under no more obligation to support gay marriage, gay hate-crime legislation, etc., than African-American legislators are obliged to support affirmative action. In both cases, the issue is one of public policy. A homosexual, just as well as a heterosexual, may conclude that gay marriage is a bad idea. Gay activists of course disagree with this judgment, but it is not “hypocritical” for a homosexual legislator to hold a public policy view opposed to their own, any more than it is “hypocritical” for a legislator who has received a speeding ticket to support speed limits.
What happened to Larry Craig is a tragedy for him and his family, and a misfortune for his staff, his friends and many others. He may be guilty of a number of sins, but hypocrisy is not among them.
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