Sen. Larry Craig backed down yesterday from the suggestion that he would try to keep his Senate seat despite his guilty plea in a sex sting. A spokesman said the Idaho lawmaker would focus on setting the stage for an appointed replacement to take over on Sept. 30. “The most likely scenario, by far, is that by October there will be a new senator from Idaho,” said Craig spokesman Dan Whiting.
Republican lawmakers met behind closed doors this week after Craig said he might reconsider his decision to resign if he could avert a Senate ethics investigation, and withdraw a guilty plea he entered after he was charged with soliciting sex from a police officer in a Minneapolis airport men’s room. Several senators criticized party leaders, saying they “rushed to judgment,” but most said the GOP had been right to pressure Craig to quit.
Craig should stay and fight, said Roger Simon in The Politico. If the Senate is such an "upstanding body," let its members kick him out. Craig surely did what the cop said he did, but what he did—tapping his foot in an alleged offer of sex—was no crime. "Larry Craig is a hypocrite, a liar and a fool.But if we kicked people out of the Senate for that, how many senators would we have left?"
If legal experts are right, said David Espo in The Huffington Post, Craig has little chance of withdrawing his plea. And the Senate Ethics Committee has already rejected his attempt to block a formal investigation into his case. If he doesn’t go quietly, he must realize he faces “protracted legal and political struggle, much of it playing out in public, with gay sex at its core.”
Craig’s problems aren’t limited to his August guilty plea and a Senate ethics investigation, said the Idaho Statesman in an editorial. His word games—saying only that he “intended” to resign—left him with a “credibility issue with the people who have elected him since 1980.” And his relationship with his Senate colleagues “may be broken beyond repair.”
Enough is enough. Craig is already "America's latest laughingstock." Does he have to turn his party and his state into "punchlines," too? said the New York Post in an editorial.