Larry Craig and Right Wing Hypocrisy

Several bloggers on the left see hypocrisy on the response by right wing bloggers to the Larry Craig lewd conduct story.

Glenn Greenwald wonders why those were so outraged when Mike Rogers floated rumors outing closeted gay Republicans are now so vehement in insisting that Craig should resign.

While I don’t doubt that there has been hypocrisy and inconsistency on these matters, the reactions to which tend to be more visceral than rational, I’d argue that there are important differences.

Rogers was threatening to destroy the lives of people who held a secret they feared making public, who were causing little harm in holding that secret, simply to make political points for a cause. That’s simply despicable. Craig, on the other hand, committed a crime in a public place and then pled guilty to it. At that point, it was no longer a private matter but a public one.

Greenwald also notes that the recent news that David Vitter was having sex with a prostitute garnered far less outrage and ascribes this to homophobia. Scott Lemieux agrees, chalking it up to the fact that a Republican governor would point Craig’s successor while a Democrat would do so for Vitter.

Radley Balko snarks, “Guess there’s some sort moral distinction between cheating on your wife via anonymous gay sex and cheating on your wife by paying for hetero sex with a prostitute.” Matt Yglesias argues “any difference would tend to cut in favor of Craig rather than against him, since paying prostitutes for sex is a real crime and it’s still unclear to me what it is Craig’s guilty of — he mostly seems to have been brought up on charges of ‘being gay in the Midwest.'”

Hiring a prostitute and lewd conduct are both crimes. Many of us on the libertarian right, though, don’t think the former should be, making us more sympathetic to those so charged. As I noted at the time, this was especially true in Vitter’s case, where he was engaged in mutually consensual conduct with a reasonably affluent, college educated woman choosing from among many economic options rather than some poor drug addict trying to score her next fix or avoid being beaten up by her pimp.

Craig, on the other hand, was reaching under the stalls to unsuspecting strangers answering nature’s call. That’s just creepy. While I don’t doubt homophobia plays a part in the reactions of some, my guess is that if Craig were hanging out in the stalls of a woman’s restroom engaging in similar conduct, there would be more outrage, not less.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SavageView says:

    Greenwald also notes that the recent news that David Vitter was having sex with a prostitute garnered far more outrage and ascribes this to homophobia.

    Do you mean “far less”? Why not just own up to the hypocrisy and the party-trumps-all mentality and move on?

  2. madmatt says:

    “Rogers was threatening to destroy the lives of people who held a secret they feared making public, who were causing little harm in holding that secret, simply to make political points for a cause”

    So Rogers was telling the truth about a hypocritical little secret that allows Craig to vote in the Senate to hurt millions of americans who are just trying to live their lives…which act is more despicable…the one that effects millions or the one that effects an individual family?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Do you mean “far less”?

    Yes. Corrected now.

    Why not just own up to the hypocrisy and the party-trumps-all mentality and move on?

    Because that’s not what I believe happened, as explained in the post. There may be people who made that calculation but that’s not what I’ve done. The cases are markedly different.

  4. bains says:

    …my guess is that if Craig were hanging out in the stalls of a woman’s restroom engaging in similar conduct, there would be more outrage, not less.

    Seems I recall a number of people raging on that allegations of groping were enough to preclude an actor from becoming a Governer. You think if those women consented and enjoyed it they would refer to it as groping?

  5. Bithead says:

    I wouldn’t be able to say too much as regards his integrity, but if you really wanted to save his job, he could have taken the path of Gary Condit, Gary Hart, Ted Kennedy, (ANd for that matter, Patrick Kennedy, too) Bill Clinton, Gavin Newsom and Jim McGreevey, Gary Studds, Barney Frank, and so many others as to make the point a repetitive one.

    Oh, wait, he did that. The people I’ve listed here didn’t shut up, either. Of course, the louder they streamed, the louder the democratic party as a whole screamed, too. Of course, it was labeled as “understanding”.

    Hmmm.
    Perhaps the what is being illustrated here is the difference between the Republican party as a whole, and the Democrats;

    When the Democrats that I’ve listed above, were caught in their particular misdeeds, instead of being kicked out, they were reelected.

    Indeed, to get removed from office once elected while being a Democrat, one would have to do one of two things; they would have to do a Michael Vick on a handful of puppies and kittens, or they would have to have a reputation for going against the Democrat lockstep, as James Trafficant did. Or, Joe Lieberman.

    Getting the picture, yet?