Saturday, September 1, 2007

Another Republican Gay Scandal

So Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is due to resign from the Senate today, according to most media reports. He is a member of an even more elite group of people than the clubby U.S. Senate: He is a politician who will be missed by neither party. And certainly not by me.

The GOP is desperate to get him out of office and to cut off this scandal quickly so the party can try to recover before the 2008 election, which currently is shaping up to be a Republican bloodbath. Good luck with that. (Since it's a completely GOP-made disaster, they are welcome to stew in their problems.) Meanwhile, the Democrats are glad to get rid of another arch-conservative GOPer, whose resignation, just coincidentally, will put into play an otherwise safe GOP seat.

This past week as I've discussed this strange case of Sen. Craig with friends, we've all marvelled at the man's self-delusion. ("I am not gay," he said repeatedly. Well, it's true that most gay men don't do the things you pled guilty of doing and certainly straight guys don't do them, but the record looks pretty bad for ya, pal.) But as I've thought about it, I think we can take him at his word, sort of.

By that I mean not that we should believe his claim of non-gayness. Oh, he's gay all right. But I can accept that he honestly, truly thinks he's not gay. Why? He has been a vociferous opponent of any bills that would make gay life more respectable, that would allow a more honest and responsible gay leadership to emerge, and that would in any way validate gay people as equal citizens.

Like many right-wingers (and some left-wingers, incidentally), he acts like he thinks homosexuality is a perverse urge that plagues potentially everyone. To him, illicit, dirty, anonymous, man-on-man sex is simply a physical act. What he can't conceive of is that two men could love each other, be faithful, endure all the mundane and extraordinary pains and challenges of life together, and even find joy in spending their evening watching an NBA game and reading a book in their living room or talking about their cat's flea problem. Sex? Oh, yeah, Craig and his ilk (and they are an ilk) think evil sexual urges are all around us and everyone is tempted by them from time to time. Thus, he can be just one more man who was tempted and succumbed. But he's "not gay." And, frankly, if he can't conceive of loving and living with another man for the rest of his life, then at least he's sparing another man real heartache.

Pity about his family, though.

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