I suspect Specter's legal analysis is correct. If Craig had bothered to consult an attorney in advance, he would have been urged to fight the charge. Craig, however, seemed more concern about shielding the arrest from the public. A legal challenge would have only drawn attention to the case, which went unnoticed by the news media for nearly two months. In the end, the guilty plea became public anyway so he gained nothing by pleading guilty to the charge. The police officer accused Craig of peering into his bathroom stall before entering the one adjacent to his, tapping his foot and running his hand along the divider separating them. The officer interpreted this as an invitation for sex, but Craig denies that was his intention. Regardless, it is doubtful his conduct amounted to a crime of disorderly conduct.
The Star's Dan Carpenter adds an enlightened and entertaining perspective on the Craig arrest in his column today. It will have Micah Clark, Eric Miller and Curt Smith fuming all day. Here's part of what he had to say:
You don't have to be gay, you just need some empathy for fellow human beings, to realize the hell this man is going through over a laughable act that would not even be subject to the deliberations of GOP moralizers if society were grown up about sex.
Lives wouldn't be ruined by meetings between adults in restrooms because they could meet in restaurants. Badges would not be issued to people who get their jollies setting up clueless strangers with bogus offers of sex. Prominent men would not meet other men in restrooms and parks to avoid prying eyes -- at the risk of press clippings.
In such a world, Larry Craig could be a gay gasbag shilling for the gun lobby and timber industry or a straight one, and we would praise or denounce him solely based on our orientation toward guns and trees.
Gay people, in short, would stand in the sunlight as first-class citizens. Vice squads would have to go catch bad guys or take early retirement.
And one more weapon of the police state would be mothballed.
What Larry Craig discovered, after all, is an especially vicious little peculiarity of homophobia. To be discriminated against for being black, you have to be black. To be evicted, fired or arrested for being gay, all you have to be is accused. If they want to do you wrong, you can't prove 'em wrong. Remember Lillian Hellman's classic play "The Children's Hour"? One gay teacher, one straight teacher, one vengeful student, two lives torn apart.
It would be nice to think the departing senator and his former brethren will ponder these ideas in light of Washington's latest sex fiasco, but such a foxhole conversion is unlikely. They owe their ascension, after all, to the very bigotry that rose up to bite Craig on his pious posterior. The day they can't drive gay Americans into those bus stations is the day their "family values" bus runs out of gas.