Larry Craig Fails the GOP's Boy Scout Test
On Tuesday, disgraced Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig made it clear he goes both ways. Just three days after announcing he "intends to resign" as a result of his guilty plea in the Minnesota men's room toe tapping case, a Craig aide signaled he might not step down after all. And that's sure to put the fear of God into his Republican colleagues, who have already proclaimed that Craig failed the GOP's Boy Scout Test.
The Republicans' Boy Scout Test is simply this: if you can't be a Boy Scout Troop Leader, then you can't hold office as a Republican. Put another way, if yours is the love that dare not speak its name in the U.S. military, then you have no career in conservative politics. (As Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Ed Shrock, Jim West and more show, this standard is "more honored in the breach than the observance.")
Be that as it may, Craig's erstwhile conservative allies were quick to condemn him for his perceived failure of the Test. Bryan Fischer, executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance, proclaimed last week:
"Even setting Senator Craig's situation aside, the Party should regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP."
On Sunday, desperate Republicans breathed a sigh of relief over Craig's premature withdrawal the day before. Senator John Ensign of Nevada praised the GOP leadership's quick steps too avoid yet more damage to the party in advance of the 2008 elections. Ensign declared:
"One of the things I'm proudest about our leadership is the swift action, not only calling for an immediate Senate investigation, ethics investigation, removing him from his committees, but also sending the signal to him that it was probably best that he resign. It was best for himself, best for his family, and best for the institution of the Senate."
Former Arkansas Governor and 2008 GOP White House hopeful Mike Huckabee may not believe in evolution, but he clearly believes in the implications of Craig's guilty plea for his party. Running as always to the GOP's hard right, Huckabee on Sunday even joked about Craig's - and the party's - predicament:
"If he had stayed, I think it would have been a very, very challenging environment. You might say we would be waiting until the other shoe dropped, which would not be a good situation for the Senate, for Senator Craig or anybody else for that matter."
Unfortunately for his former faith-based friends on the right, Larry Craig's resignation apparently depends on what the definition of "intends" is. As the Craig legal and political drama plays out, the Republicans and their conservative amen corner would do well to heed the admonition of indicted former House Majority Leader Tom Delay:
"Just think of what we could accomplish...if we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees."
Then again, that's apparently what got them in trouble in the first place.