Monday, September 03, 2007

After the Purge of Larry Craig: Who's Next?

The speed -- and brute force -- with which the Republican Party purged the newly-revealed bathroom sex troller among them is pretty astounding. The New York Times reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell forced Larry Craig's resignation by threatening Craig with a sensational, televised, McCarthyesque ethics investigation that could bring forth Craig's history of prior male-on-male sexual activities and force him to answer to all the lurid details.

The Republicans were fretting big time about their homo-hating base -- it's really all they've got left -- and they would do whatever it took to banish Craig, including bludgeoning him into submission with threats of further exposure. The Idaho senator may have pleaded guilty to a crime but his was a minor infraction --compared to the sleazy business of other Republican senators, including Alaska's Ted Stevens, whose home was raided by the FBI and IRS in the midst of an investigation of official favors he may have done for an oil company -- and Craig paid for his crime (with a fine).

Just a few weeks ago Republican Senator David Vitter appeared to have admitted committing a crime yet hasn't been investigated, let alone charged or paid any consequences. Glenn Greenwald exposes the double standard of the GOP evident in the treatment of Craig and Vitter, noting that, "the only kind of 'morality' that this movement knows or embraces is politically exploitative, cost-free morality," which is "why the national Republican Party rails endlessly against homosexuality and is virtually mute about divorce and adultery." (Greenwald's analysis on his blog provides the perfect antidote to the idiotic claims of Log Cabin Republican leader Patrick Sammon. In the Times article Sammon sucked up to Republican Party leaders, saying there was "a clear distinction" between the Vitter and Craig cases. Earth to Log Cabin, come in please: They don't want you, no matter how much ass-kissing you do.)

If the Republican Party has no choice but to tell its base that purging the queer members of Congress is the way to go, well then, there seem to be a few more Republican senators and house members that must be banished. It is now even more relevant for the traditional media to report on these alleged closet cases, considering how the party leadership has treated Larry Craig.

If, for example, the Senate Minority Leader himself, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, were secretly gay -- and there have been unsubstantiated though persistent rumors about him for many years, a la those previously unbelieveable rumors about Craig -- his antigay voting record wouldn't now be the only criteria that would make his secret homosexuality relevant. We now have him using blackmailing tactics against another senator, threatening to reveal that senator's past homosexual activities. Certainly that would rise to the level of relevancy to report on McConnell, wouldn't it?

Some will say that I should not even discuss unsubstantiated rumors and thus further them with no evidence (and let me point out that I do not have any idea if the rumors about McConnell are true). Well, to that I say the world has changed (particularly in the past week): 1) I do not believe being gay is a bad thing so I certainly don't believe that speculating that someone is gay is a bad thing; 2) Larry Craig proved, once again, that where there is smoke (for decades, no less) there is fire. Sometimes rumors are prevalent for a reason: They are true. And lately, that seems to be the case more often than not.

If the rumors about other Republicans are true -- or not -- then there is even more reason now, in the post-Larry Craig Republican Party, for them to be investigated. So let's have a real investigation of the rumors about South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who, like Larry Craig until shortly after the gay rumors reached a crescendo in the 80s, is, at the age of 52, unmarried, and has been rumored to be gay for years. Like Larry Craig, Graham has voted antigay -- including for the federal marriage amendment -- while people in South Carolina and Washington have discussed what some say is an open secret for a long, long time.

And what about California Republican Congressman David Dreier, who was asked, by me, on my radio show (during the Republican convention in New York in 2004), about the constant gay rumors about him, another "bachelor" congressman, and one who has supported bigots and voted for antigay legislation? Dreier not only refused to address the rumors but then wouldn't respond when I asked, simply, "So, you are heterosexual?" ("I am not going to answer that," he said.) Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff also contemplated if Dreier is next, and surely reporters should work with renewed vigor on fleshing out the truth.

There are others, and no doubt their names will pop up more and more as we go. At the very least every single one of these people should be asked point blank about the rumors about them, and then they're free to deflect, lie or tell the truth. Hasn't the Larry Craig scandal, and his purge by the leadership of his party, changed the criteria by which the traditional media should be looking into these people's possible hypocrisy? And what can we all do to make sure that it does?