Craig is the person who initially pled guilty to attempting to solicit sex from an undercover male cop in an airport bathroom. He is now fighting to withdraw his plea and seems to be intent on staying on as a Senator.
Interestingly, the Republican Party – of which Craig is a member – is looking like it’s going to be leading the charge to kick him out of the Senate.
This presents Democrats with a choice – or maybe it’s an opportunity. The way I see it, the Dems can do one of several things:
1) They can do nothing, stand on the sidelines, and watch to see if Craig emerges victorious or whether or not he gets drummed out. (I’m not sure how true this is since I don’t know members of the Minority Party can call a hearing or if they have to have the approval of the Chair of the Ethics Committee – in this case a Democrat.)
2) They can side with the GOP and (presumably) argue that Craig has disgraced the Senate through his actions and his conviction, and pressure him to leave.
3) They can side with Craig and fight the GOP.
In other words, I think the Democrats can side with justice on this one, or they can side with politics and use this issue for political gain. I don’t think they can do both.
Siding with justice means, for me, that the Dems actually take Craig’s side and argue in the public eye that being gay is OK. This opens up an opportunity to talk about the suffering that LGBT folks who are in the closet have to go through, and also about the silliness and injustice present in lots of anti-sodomy laws. Caveat: The whole prostitution angle needs to be navigated, but I think that’s doable. Just talk about how this would never have happened if Craig was free to love whomever he wanted. Overall, a great opportunity for the Dems to take a stand rooted firmly in equality and justice for all, with the added bonus that politically, the Dems will be “above” politics since they would be helping a Republican Senator whose views may change a tiny bit as a result of this (I believe if Craig leaves, his appointed replacement will be a Republican anyway).
However, I think the Dems are more likely to take what I would call the low road on this one and either sit idly by while Craig fights the GOP or even assist in Craig’s ouster. There might be some sniping at the GOP regarding hypocrisy, but not too much, since there are plenty of Dems who fear exposure. This route views the battle as primarily about gaining short-term political advantage for the Party by utilizing power-as-a-zero-sum-game rules: Hurt the GOP and the Dems look better. Unfortunately, it does nothing to help the LGBT community as a whole, and nothing to create a better environment for politics to take place in.
Like I said, the Democrats have a choice. They can ally themselves with justice, or they can play at politics. I’m curious to see what they do.