More Republicans Bow Out
I'm not sure that the end of summer is traditionally a time when politicians pack it in, but it sure seems to be the hot trend this summer, particularly among Republicans. We've already seen Karl Rove resign (his last day was today), and then Alberto Gonzales offered his resignation, as well. But it's not stopping there. Tony Snow had previously announced that he'd be leaving when his cash dried up, and today he made it official: "I ran out of money." According to The Washington Post, his annual salary was only $168,000, so who among us couldn't have seen this coming?
The White House wasn't the only place Republicans were abandoning, though. The Senate saw some action, as well. Virginia's Senator John Warner disclosed his plans to step down at the end of his current term. This move was fairly widely expected, as the 80-year-old senator seemed to be neglecting his fund-raising chores in building up his war chest for another run. It remains to be seen whether it will help to undermine the position against the Iraq war he staked out earlier this week in calling for the withdrawal of troops. He's not losing any of the respect he's built up on military and foreign affairs matters, but he can't expect to have the same kind of clout he'd have if he were seeking another term.
More controversial was the information that Senator Larry Craig of Idaho would be making his own announcement about his future tomorrow. I never got around to writing about Craig and his airport restroom travails (although I'd intended to mention that a fish who was very intrigued by my bathing suit and kept swimming near it for about half an hour while I was in the ocean last week somehow reminded me of the senator), but the trajectory of his scandal is very intriguing. National Republicans wasted no time in distancing themselves from Craig and demanding that he resign. They were understandably upset that he was arrested in June and then pleaded guilty earlier this month without them knowing (it is quite remarkable that the whole thing remained under the radar for three weeks before it came out in Roll Call). But it's intriguing to compare Craig's situation with that of David Vitter, the senator from Louisiana, who admitted to some wrongdoing involving prostitution but has been protected by Republican leaders. It does seem pretty obvious that Republicans have made the decision that they'll sound the alarm for anything suggesting gay activity, but hetero mischief will be swept under the carpet. All I can assume from this is that if Craig had been apparently soliciting in a women's restroom, all would be forgiven. Glenn Greenwald has a much better breakdown of that comparison than I've got it in me to write tonight, but here's a key quote:
Whatever else one wants to say about the "family values" wing of the right-wing movement, the absolute last thing that it is is a principled, apolitical movement. And -- as the starkly different treatment for Craig and Vitter conclusively demonstrates -- these vaunted "moral principles," for which we are all supposed to show such profound respect, are invoked only when there is no political cost to invoking them, and worse, typically only when there is political benefit in doing so.
As you can probably guess, the whole thing is worth your time.