Bloggers on Sen. Craig's airport arrest.

Bloggers on Sen. Craig's airport arrest.

Bloggers on Sen. Craig's airport arrest.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Aug. 28 2007 6:08 PM

Dirty Larry

Bloggers LOL over Sen. Larry Craig's airport antics and react to the news of arrests in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Dirty Larry: Sen. Larry Craig pleaded guilty earlier this month to "lewd conduct" after being arrested in a Minnesota airport in June for allegedly sending "cruising signals"—i.e., playing footsie in a public bathroom—to an undercover policeman. Craig said he regrets his guilty plea and that his actions were "misconstrued": He merely has a "wide stance" when using the toilet. Bloggers left and right take a fairly narrow stance on this one: He's done.

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"I don't believe him," writes conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt. "... He must think the people of Idaho are idiots. But even if I did believe him, this would make his judgment too flawed to be in the United States Senate in a time of war. He has to go."

A few liberal bloggers point out Craig's support for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, plus his opposition to a bill that would have banned job discrimination on the basis of homosexuality. At Obsidian Wings, liberal Hilzoy expresses "a certain sympathy for closeted gay men and lesbians," but "my sympathy vanishes when it comes to people who support amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, as Craig did."

But hypocrisy charges aren't so simple, argues James Taranto at OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web. "[T]there is nothing hypocritical about someone who is homosexual, believes homosexuality is wrong, and keeps his homosexuality under wraps. To the contrary, he is acting consistent with his beliefs. If he has furtive encounters in men's rooms, that is an act of weakness, not hypocrisy."

Conservative Sister Toldjah claims that Craig's alleged homosexuality "doesn't bother me from a legislative perspective, because you can be gay and vote in favor of things like the DOMA, just like you can be black and vote against affirmative action, and just like you can be a woman and vote against abortion. … It's the personal aspect of this that is bothersome—the deception, the lies, the adultery, the criminal nature of what he was arrested for back in June."

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The only thing more embarrassing than the incident itself is Craig's "bizarre fabrications" while trying to cover it up, writes liberal Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report: "Why did he rub his foot against the police officer's? Because, he said, he "has a wide stance when going to the bathroom." Why did he wave his hand repeatedly under the stall divider? Because he was reaching for a piece of paper (that did not apparently exist). Why did he plead guilty to criminal charges? Because he was in a hurry."

Still, liberal Matthew Yglesias is skeptical that "lewd conduct" actually occurred: "Whatever Craig intended to do here, he doesn't seem, in fact, to have done anything lewd. I suppose that Craig, wanting to keep this whole thing hushed up, wouldn't have wanted to fight the charges, but it's still hard to see how he could have imagined that it wouldn't come out sooner or later." Jeff Fecke at Shakesville wonders why a subtle request for consensual sex is a crime: "I won't weep for Craig  … But I won't gloat over this, either, because the ultimate message of this arrest is that the desire to engage in sexual activities with someone of the same sex is in and of itself offensive, and lewd, and criminal. And that's a rather sobering and disturbing thought."

The Politico's Jonathan Martin posts two videos: One of them, removed by Mitt Romney's campaign, shows Craig praising Romney for his "very strong family values." The other, a news report from 1982, depicts then-Rep. Craig defending himself against rumors involving cocaine and sex with male congressional pages.

David Freddoso at National Review's Corner discusses possible replacements, putting his money on Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch: "Risch stepped aside to let Butch Otter (R) take the nomination and win as governor last year. In some sense Otter left him little choice by announcing his own candidacy so early, but the perception is that it's Risch's turn now. He could even be in better shape running as the incumbent."

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Read more about Larry Craig's arrest. Slate's editors share their e-mail debate over the incident, and Bonnie Goldstein has the arrest report.

Who killed Anna?: Russian prosecutors have arrested 10 suspects in the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and at least four have been charged. The lead prosecutor attributed the crime to individuals "living beyond Russia's borders," but Novoya Gazeta, Politkovskaya's newspaper, published an editorial saying it's too early to be sure.

"One can't describe how neatly this fits into the Kremlin's own narrative of not only the motives for Politkovskaya's murder, but also the high profile murders of Alexandr Litvinenko, Paul Klebnikov, and Central Bank head Andrei Kozlov," writes UCLA grad student Sean Guillory at Sean's Russia Blog. "… One things is clear, Politkovskaya as 'political football' has been dusted off and re-inflated just in time for a new season."

International affairs blogger Robert Amsterdam urges "caution" in greeting the news: "Something I learned … is that Russian prosecutors are specialized in arranging political show trials and performing illusions of due process—but when it comes to actual investigations and the procurement of evidence … they have not the talent nor ability to get the job done."

Foreign correspondent Mark MacKinnon reiterates Novoya Gazeta's assertion that the arrested suspects may have been involved in the murder, but they don't appear to have ordered it: "Charging them is half the prosecution's task here, the other half is to find out who hired them and to bring them to justice."

BoingBoing posts an essay on Politkovskaya by her friend, Jasmina Tešanović: "Maybe someday, there will be a war tribunal for the many criminal deeds in Chechnia, and Anna's life and death will be a part of that."

Read more about the arrests.