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.